Take Your Campers to Mars!

July 27, 2020
Carolyn Ng and Christine Shupla
Mars 2020 Perseverance

Invite your campers to join NASA for the launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover and excite campers with Mars activities you can conduct virtually or in-person! The Mars 2020 mission will launch around July 30, 2020. There are several ways that you and your campers can participate in the launch, including recording and posting your own countdown, sending your name to Mars, playing with a 3D rover, and more!

Perseverance will land on the surface of the Red Planet in February 2021. The rover will examine Jezero Crater for evidence of ancient microbial life and gather Mars samples for future return to Earth.

NASA has many Mars activities that can be used in camps now and in the future. Mission to Mars is a series of activities to help campers learn about the planet, plan a mission, and design a spacecraft — launch it, land it, run it on the Martian surface, and return samples. The series includes videos that can be shared with campers, activities that can be done by campers from home (such as Building a Pasta Rover), and activities that can be done as virtual demonstrations (such as Looking for Life). NASA has compiled a variety of educational resources about Mars and the 2020 mission in its Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit.

Explore Life on Mars is a set of activities for use with children ages 8–13 and focused on our search for indications that Mars may be (or was) able to support life. Mars Match includes a PowerPoint game modification that can be done with campers virtually.

Robotic arms have helped deliver science payloads and cargo on space shuttles and the International Space Station. A small robotic arm on the Mars Perseverance rover will cache rock and soil samples for later return to Earth. Your campers can practice designing their own robotic arm to collect samples.

For more resources on Mars, visit https://mars.nasa.gov and https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/.

Carolyn Ng is the informal education lead for the NASA Space Science Education Consortium at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and played a leading role in supporting activities and resources for the August 21 solar eclipse. She has co-led the Sun-Earth Day program and the 2012 Transit of Venus outreach that brought space science content to many educators, museums, parks, and the general public.

Christine Shupla is the education and public engagement manager at the Lunar and Planetary Institute and supports NASA’s efforts to engage the camp community.

Photos courtesy of NASA.