Mars is one of the most studied and debated planets in the solar system. Based on its proximity to the Earth and discoveries made on Mars, scientists and the general public speculate that the planet hosted a population of inhabitants and an intelligent way of life, much like Earth does today. Students can do a number of projects based on Mars, to help them study the planet. Most require only basic materials and time.
Model of Mars
Have students research the planet and learn about any discoveries made on the planet. Using craft foam balls and/or paper mache, have students make a model of what they think the planet looks like. Use acrylic craft paints to paint the various colors they believe the planet to be, based on photos published by NASA. In recent years, scientists claimed to discover deep valleys, mountains, caves and water on Mars. Have students incorporate those findings into their models.
Plan a Mission
Separate the students into groups and have them plan a mission to Mars. Have each team study the planet and develop theories about how much time it may take to get there, based on the estimated distance of the planet from Earth, how much food needs to be taken, and what is needed to survive on the trip. Have each group of students present their mission plans to the class.
Life on Mars
Students of all ages can take part in this project. The goal is for students to outline in words and pictures what they believe life on Mars was like. Elementary students can draw pictures of what the think Martians look like, and what sort of buildings might exist on the planet. Older students can write essays and create examples of what they think life on Mars was like based on research. Have them consider features of the planet, such as the temperature and landscape, and develop possible types of sports and other activities for the Martians.
Study indicates that Mars is the only planet that does not have a magnetic field around it. It is proven with testing, however, Mars has a thick magnetic crust that is more powerful than the magnetic field around the Earth. Have students demonstrate magnetism by assigning children various sizes of magnets and an assortment of small objects. Have the students test each object with a magnet and document how the item reacts to a magnet. The idea is to get the students to understand how each item may react if it was on Mars.