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Elementary students experience successful ‘Mission to Mars’

Hill Air Force Base and Weber State University brought nearly 300 fifth-grade students from local elementary schools to the WSU campus to participate in the annual Mission to Mars link-up day May 2.

Mission to Mars is sponsored by the Hill AFB STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Outreach Program and WSU’s College of Engineering, Applied Science and Technology.

The event is designed to be a fun and hands-on way to encourage kids to explore STEM fields.

“Mission to Mars is the premier event of the Hill STEM Outreach Program,” said Alison Sturgeon, Hill STEM Program manager. “We love this event for many reasons. Not only is link-up day fun, but students spend time studying Mars in their classrooms and they experience how math, science, writing, creativity and imagination work together to make what seems impossible, possible.”

In the months prior to the event, students studied how to sustain life on Mars, and discussed solutions to the many challenges humans would encounter on the planet.

On link-up day, the students built habitats and presented their life-support system models, team mission patch and uniform, and a creative story or play about their journey to judges.

The habitats were linked to one another via a series of tunnels, hence the “link-up” name.

“It is a pleasure to work with the Hill Air Force Base team and local schools on Mission to Mars,” said Dana Dellinger, Center for Technology Outreach director. “We share the goal of helping kids maximize their STEM education now and go on to pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields.”