Take the Mars Challenge!

July 12, 2021 | Andrea

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Girl sitting next to two rover-like devices with wheels, wires and battery packs. She is shining a flashlight on one of the devices, with a partially seen adult guiding her hand. The adult holds a second flashlight.

Mars holds a special fascination for space fans of all ages. There's no shortage of Red Planet-inspired stories. Earthlings have imagined all sorts of things about our neighbour, creating plenty of books, radio dramas, movies, TV shows and video games to fill Wikipedia subcategories.

When NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, it made headlines around the world. Did your family watch the exciting descent or check out some of the amazing images taken by high-tech cameras? Experience the wonder of space exploration together with your child. Join us for a design thinking workshop where kids can learn about Mars and build their own machine or device to explore the rocky terrain.


Curiosity - The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum (ages 8 to 12)

Our Wonder Workshop: Mars Challenge program is inspired by this book. Before Perseverance, there was Curiosity! The story follows the rover's journey from construction to touchdown. Kids will have the chance to brainstorm their own solutions to the challenges of going to Mars. Discover the power of imagination! Tune in live on July 14 at 11am or watch the replay.

You might not have any advanced scientific instruments in your kitchen drawers. (And if you do, you probably don't want to risk damaging them!) But look around your home for ideas to create your own rover. What can your child come up with using objects like egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and juice boxes? Here are some guidelines for your foray into design thinking:

  • Ask. What is the problem? What do we need to solve?
  • Imagine. What are some ways to solve the problem?
  • Plan. Organize your steps.
  • Create. Bring your idea to life by drawing it or using recyclable materials to build it.
  • Test. Just because you didn't actually launch your creation into space doesn't mean the mission failed. Did your child develop a better understanding of Mars, spacecraft or the solar system?
  • Improve. How can you make the prototype work better based on observations from the testing stage?

It's okay if your child's idea doesn't quite come together. Trying and testing things out is a great opportunity to learn about the scientific method. Take time and work on possible solutions as a family. There is no right or wrong answer. The fun is in imagining!

Fact or fiction, we have lots of resources about Mars. Books can fuel kids' imaginations and encourage the spirit of scientific discovery!


Catstronauts - Race to Mars by Drew Brockington

CatStronauts: Race to Mars by Drew Brockington (ages 7 to 10) 

Cats in space! Kids will have a catastrophic good time with this graphic novel series.


Destination Space - Living on Other Planets by Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti

Destination: Space - Living on Other Planets by Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti (ages 9 to 12)

Earth is a Goldilocks planet, meaning it's just right for human habitation. What are the factors to consider? Written by a Canadian astronaut, this book breaks down the challenges of living on the moon or Mars in a fun, engaging way.


The Lion of Mars by Jennifer Holm

The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. Holm (ages 8 to 12)

In this science fiction novel set in the year 2091, Bell is a regular kid who lives on Mars. But it's weird how there's no contact with anyone in the other colonies. When all the adults get sick, it's up to the kids to save the day.


Mars by Elizabeth Carney

Mars by Elizabeth Carney (ages 6 to 8) 

Discover the fascinating world of Mars in this book packed with stunning photos. National Geographic Kids offers many levelled books to encourage the scientists and explorers of tomorrow.


Mars - You Decide How to Survive by Hena Khan  David Borgenicht  Robert Zubrin and Yancey Labat

Mars: You Decide How to Survive! by Hena Khan, David Borgenicht, Robert Zubrin and Yancey Labat (ages 8 to 12)

Readers get to join the youngest crew of astronauts ever to make the trip to Mars! Kids will love choosing their own path in this action-packed adventure with 22 possible endings. Can they achieve the mission and safely return home to Earth?


Red Rover - Curiosity on Mars by Richard Ho and Katherine Roy

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars by Richard Ho and Katherine Roy (ages 4 to 7)

The rover is depicted like Wall-E in this book filled with beautiful, alien illustrations of sandstorms and rocky landscapes. Following all the informational picture books starring Curiosity, we can expect more stories about Perseverance to be published. 


Space Technology - Rovers by Julie Murray

Rovers by Julie Murray (ages 6 to 9) 

Take a closer look at the incredible rovers that roam distant planets! Learn more about space technology like satellites and shuttles in this series. You'll be surprised by the common products that were originally developed for astronauts.


Keep your child exploring and learning all summer long! You can track your reading, complete challenges and earn badges using a free app called Beanstack. Register your family by visiting tpl.ca/readingapp or by downloading the Beanstack Tracker app for your device.

Our Summer Wonder programs run until September 4.  You can also check out our Mini Wonder Workshop videos on YouTube for more design-thinking challenges. We'd love to see what your family creates! Snap some photos of your prototypes and share it with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #TPLSummerWonder.