Follow this link to skip to the main content
Image of a futuristic plane flying over the surface of Mars towards the camera.
 Image that says Overview. Button that takes you to the Teacher's Toolkit Section. Button that takes you to the Student Materials Section. Button that takes you to the Mission Day Section.
M.A.R.S. Introduction
The Mission Scenario
Learning Objectives
NCTM Math Standards
Technology Requirements
Contact Us
M.A.R.S. Introduction

Welcome to the M.A.R.S. live simulation web site. Here, you will find everything you need to run this simulation effectively in your classroom.

What is the M.A.R.S. live simulation?
The Martian Aerial Reconnaissance Simulation (M.A.R.S.) is a live “mission” conducted in your classroom through videoconferencing. It features teams of students using real-time data to complete the mission directive. The accompanying web site provides 5-10 class periods of mission preparation materials, including the standards addressed, scope and sequence, lesson plans, and student materials.

Is this only for math classes?
M.A.R.S. was created to reinforce certain math concepts for grades 5-8:

  • Using graphs to analyze the nature of changes and to solve contextualized problems
  • Determining the area of triangles, parallelograms, and circles using formulas
  • Solving simple problems involving rates and derived measurements (e.g., Fuel consumption is a function of distance and time)

The program is an innovative way to engage students by integrating both math topics and authentic space science in a real-time context. The web site includes resources for integrating science topics.

How is the program used?

Schedule date→ Brief the students → Math lessons → Pre-Mission prep → Conduct the mission
  1. Contact the Program Registrar at the Challenger Learning Center to schedule the date for the mission either by filling out the online registration form or via phone at 304-243-8740.
  2. “Brief” the students on the mission Challenger Learning Center is asking them to conduct.
  3. Use lesson plans provided on the web site to reinforce the relevant math concepts.
    • Conduct optional careers and family involvement activities.
  4. Prepare students for the mission by completing a “mini-mission” to apply math concepts.
    • Organize students into teams; set up the classroom with data computers.
    • Conduct test videoconference link with the Challenger Learning Center.
  5. Link with the Challenger Learning Center; conduct mission!

Image of a diagram that shows how the classroom should be setup.In what way is the simulation conducted in “real time”?
The mission is a student-centered, team-based, interactive educational experience that uses scientifically accurate data to solve problems. You run the simulation in your own classroom through the Internet using a small video camera, or you use nearby distance learning labs. The classroom is connected with a flight director from the Challenger Learning Center who guides the problem-solving activities to a successful conclusion.

In the M.A.R.S. simulation, students work as navigators, scientists, and communicators in teams of six. Each team controls the flight path for an unmanned aircraft to explore potential sites for a new base on Mars. Navigators choose the sites and determine the amount of fuel required to fly to the next location. Mission scientists calculate the area of the target site and make deductions about chemical compounds in the soil. Findings from one location help determine the flight path to the next location. Communicators coordinate all these activities with the mission director.

Image of some kids talking into a microphone.Is this just for fun or do students really learn?
The program was designed by middle and high school teachers, educational researchers, and subject matter experts. M.A.R.S. joins the lineup of innovative distance learning programs offered by the Center for Educational Technologies' website. Simulations are an interactive way for you to effectively use technology in your classroom. Research indicates that this way of learning leads to improved problem-solving and critical-thinking skills and teaches students the importance of teamwork and communication.

Shifting to digital learning is critical to the success of education in America. M.A.R.S. creates an opportunity for you to apply various technologies and provides necessary digital content lacking in so many computer classrooms.

Good luck on your mission!

Download Microsoft Active Accessibility.

Animation showing all of the innovative programs for digital learning that the Center for Educational Technologies has developed. Some of them include: EVA Alert, M.A.R.S., and Target Moon. Button that takes you to the Classroom of the Future home page.  The caption reads: Developed by the NASA-Sponsored Classroom of the Future.
Image that shows the bottom border of the page.
Image of Live Simulation M.A.R.S. logo that takes you to the home page.