Mission to Mars
Grade 3

STEM Focus: Space Exploration

SEL Focus: Emotions and Neuroscience

Girl Building Cup Tower (Landscape)


Students will be able to:

  • Internalize a growth mindset:
    1. Explain the functions of the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex
    2. Apply the knowledge of how these brain parts interact to manage their emotions and reactions when faced with a challenge
    3. Identify their own Amygdala Calming Actions (ACA) and Amygdala Calming Thoughts (ACT)
  • Incorporate space exploration concepts into their creations:
    1. Balance the forces of thrust and gravity to create an orbit
    2. Build hermetically-sealed shelters to survive extreme weather conditions
    3. Harness air resistance to ensure a safe landing
    4. Build tools to explore and survive on Mars
Mission to Mars Objectives

How It Works

Step 1: Lay Out Materials


20-30 pieces of Each Per Student for All 10 Lessons

  • Card (Cereal Boxes, Paper Towel Rolls, File Folders, etc.)
  • Construction Paper
  • Aluminum Foil (Arms-Length Pieces)
  • 3 oz. Dixie Cups
  • Jumbo Craft Sticks
  • Bendy Straws


  • Scissors (1 Pairs Per 2-3 Students)
  • Tape (1 Roll Per 2-3 Students)

Special Materials Unique to This Module:

  • Wiffle Balls or ~3″ Diameter Paper Balls (1 Per Student)
  • Paper Napkins (20-30 Per Student)
  • String (1 Roll Per 10 Students)

Note: Lesson 4 will need these additional materials for testing stations: 4-5 bins (approximately 10-15 qt each) and some beads or beans for each bin. If running the class online, every student will need their own bin and beads.

Mission to Mars Materials

Important: You do not need to give each child their own set of materials. Make materials available and allow students to choose their builders. The video will share any constraints about the max amount of any one material they can use.

If running the class online, parents do not need to provide all materials up front. They can add as they go. 3-5 pieces of every material per student for each challenge is sufficient. To help students stay organized and ensure they have enough materials, ask them for a picture of their materials area.

Step 2: Play Opening Video (15 min)

Each lesson has two instructional videos. Start each lesson with the opening video. It presents the STEM challenge to students in a story format.

The lesson description contains set-up instructions as well as tips for running the lesson.

Mission to Mars Opening Video Layout

Step 3: Facilitate Building (45 min)

  • Once the opening video is complete, ensure students know where to find materials and set a 45-minute timer for building.
  • While students are building, the room will get messy; but don’t worry! Clean up is an integral part of the closing video.
  • If a student encounters a problem while building, resist the urge to offer a solution. Ask questions that will guide them towards their own solution, such as “Why do you think the animal keeps falling over? What other materials might be suitable for the legs?”
Boy Taping Cardboard Tower

Step 4: Play Closing Video (15 min)

End each lesson with the closing video. It helps students to reflect on the concepts learned and leads them through a guided activity to close the lesson.

The lesson description includes a link to the parent email template for the lesson.

Superhero Metropolis Closing Video Layout

Teacher Training + Lessons 1-5

Lessons 6-10

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