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Lesson Plan 3: M.A.R.S. Math Tasks

In the M.A.R.S. mission your classroom will take part in a simulation to find a suitable site to build the first Martian base. In this exploratory mission to survey Mars, students will select sites to visit, calculate the fuel consumption of their planes to reach those sites, and calculate the areas and mineral compositions of sites they choose to visit. This activity provides practice with the math skills used in the M.A.R.S. mission.


30-45 minutes


coordinates: an ordered pair of numbers.

formula: a rule showing relationships between quantities.

horizontal axis: the horizontal line of the two lines on which a graph is built.

percent: a ratio comparing a part to a whole using the number 100. The percentage is the number of hundredths that the part is equal to.

quadrilateral: a polygon with four sides.

slope: the measure of the steepness of the line.

vertical axis: the vertical line of the two lines on which a graph is built.

NCTM Standards for Mathematics
Grades 6-8; Number and Operations Standard

Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems:

  • Work flexibly with fractions, decimals, and percentages to solve problems.

  • Understand and use ratios and proportions to represent quantitative relationships.


  • Computer

  • Projector

  • M.A.R.S. Math Tasks PowerPointŪ

  • Copies of the M.A.R.S. Math Tasks worksheet: for each student

  • Pencils


  1. Decide how you want the students to work on the activity. You may choose to have the students work individually or in groups. Another option would be to assign this activity for homework and review the answers together in class.

  2. Discuss all vocabulary in the lesson, including ratio, rate, proportion, and cross-multiplication.

  3. Preview the activity with the students. Allow time for questions and discussion.

  4. Use the M.A.R.S. Math Tasks PowerPoint to guide students through this math activity. We recommend that you work through the activity as a class using the M.A.R.S. Math Tasks presentation projected from a computer.  

  5. Make sure your students understand the relevance of this activity to their mission work. During the M.A.R.S. live simulation students will use the formulas in this lesson to calculate the fuel consumption of their surveyor planes, the area of each site their planes visit, and the amount of minerals contained at each site. They will also need to compare the amount of fuel their plane will burn to visit each site to the amount of hematite at the site, using a decision graph.

Special Comments
On mission day students will use online tools to complete these types of problems.

Answers for this activity are provided in the M.A.R.S. Math Tasks answer key:

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