Mars stars in school holiday programmes

News News & events

22 Sep 2016

With media coverage of the increasing likelihood of a future landing on Mars, and even colonisation a future possibility, the timeless appeal of space exploration is as popular as ever.

Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Mission to Mars school holiday programmes for Year 9 to 10 students are fully booked, with the imaginations of over 66 students fired up and ready to be inspired.

The free workshops, with content supplied by NASA and funding from the government’s Unlocking Curious Minds programme, are integral to the institute’s goal of engaging students with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

“NASA’s Deputy Administrator visited Ara in July and updated staff and students about the Mission to Mars programme. We are delighted to have this relationship with NASA and to bring their resources into our STEM school holiday programmes,” Ara STEM coordinator Miranda Satterthwaite said.

“We are also delighted to have the President of the New Zealand Mars Society, Haritina Mogosanu, join the programme and present to the students on Monday. She has spoken to about 5000 people across New Zealand since 2011 about Mars and Mars research including 2500 students via Futureintech, so this is another very valuable addition to our programme.”

As a ‘starryteller’ for over 20 years, Mogosanu uses her passion for space and stars to support science education and space exploration through outreach projects like the KiwiSpace Foundation, Ancient Skies, and the Society of Maori Astronomy.

Mogosanu will attend the Mission to Mars workshop, at the City Campus on 3 and 4 October, where students will explore how to get to Mars and how to survive once they are there. Also supported by FabLab, the programme combines physics, technology, engineering and CAD to assist students in creating innovative design solutions for habitats that can be manufactured in an extreme environment.

On day two the programme moves to the new Vodafone building to take advantage of the telecommunication and sensing systems, and hear directly from industry engineers who will also assist students to build their final habitat.

Survive on Mars on 5 and 6 October, also at the City Campus, focuses on nutrition and the science behind mankind’s ability to survive and stay healthy on Mars, assuming that water has already been found.

Both programmes aim to increase Māori and Pasifika interest and capability in mathematics, engage harder to reach groups of New Zealanders including those in rural areas and interest female students in STEM subjects and STEM-related careers.

Engineering and applied science qualifications have been identified as areas of shortage by Careers New Zealand. The programmes address a gap in secondary school curriculum resources on Mars and align with NCEA Level 1 internal assessment standards.

Modules pathway to Applied Science, Engineering and Computer Aided Design programmes at Ara.

Read more: NASA backs Ara Mission to Mars and NASA Deputy visits Ara.