Martian Base Building Contest

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The Mars Society Belgium has des­ig­nat­ed the three win­ning class­es of its great Martian base con­struc­tion com­pe­ti­tion: they will be vis­it­ing SCK CEN in Mol on May 30.

The Mars Society Belgium, a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion cre­at­ed in 2015 and Belgian branch of the inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tion which aims to pro­mote the ben­e­fits of the explo­ration and col­o­niza­tion of the plan­et Mars, launched a major cre­ative com­pe­ti­tion at the end of 2021 for pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary schools. Belgian and Luxembourg schools.

The aim of the com­pe­ti­tion was to cre­ate a mod­el of a Martian base, a liv­ing space that the chil­dren had to imag­ine and where the astro­nauts would reside dur­ing their stay on Mars. Beyond the team­work that such a cre­ative chal­lenge requires, the con­struc­tion of the base is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­mote inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty, the use of STEM (sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics) but also com­mu­ni­ca­tion, project man­age­ment, doc­u­men­tary research, etc. In short, a true mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary project.

Seven projects were sub­mit­ted before the com­pe­ti­tion dead­line and three win­ners were cho­sen by a jury made up of the most active mem­bers of the asso­ci­a­tion, which used sev­en cri­te­ria to eval­u­ate each project, out of a total of 50 points: the gen­er­al appear­ance, the sto­ry told, the orig­i­nal­i­ty of the base, the com­plex­i­ty of the base, the reli­a­bil­i­ty of the ele­ments, the log­book and the oral presentation.

In the astro­naut cat­e­go­ry, the CPF class (equiv­a­lent to pri­ma­ry school in Belgium) from the Vauban school in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg won first prize. After being very well doc­u­ment­ed (videos, books, didac­tic research, test­ing var­i­ous mate­ri­als, etc.), the 23 chil­dren opt­ed for a mod­el made of expand­ing foam, aquar­i­um sand and mod­el­ing clay.

The cos­mo­naut cat­e­go­ry was won by the stu­dents of class 1C of the Active School of Brussels, self-bap­tized the Sakuramars”, thanks to their base con­sist­ing of a cen­tral space — the place of life — with an octag­o­nal base con­nect­ed four annex­es: a lab­o­ra­to­ry, a gym, a meet­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion room to main­tain con­tact with the Earth and a veg­etable garden.

They focused their research and the astro­nauts’ mis­sion on agri­cul­ture by ask­ing them­selves the ques­tion can we plant on Mars?” » and have, for this pur­pose, cho­sen that their robot would be an auto­mat­ic sprin­kler. They also col­lab­o­rat­ed with the FabLab of the University of Brussels to fol­low an intro­duc­tion to the 3D print­er and the laser cut­ter for the real­iza­tion of their Martian base. A nice job that allowed them to com­bine sev­er­al school sub­jects: math­e­mat­ics, sci­ence, but also lan­guages​because they offered a log­book in the form of a video pre­sent­ed in Dutch.

Finally, class­es 2D and 2F from the Athénée Royal de Saint Ghislain won first prize in the Astronauts cat­e­go­ry. In addi­tion to think­ing about the base itself, the stu­dents looked at the pro­duc­tion of Martian ener­gy, water and oxy­gen and, to this end, car­ried out a few exper­i­ments which they con­sci­en­tious­ly filmed. They gave a very com­plete pre­sen­ta­tion, fueled by an excit­ing log­book on the stages of their design. An exem­plary involve­ment that con­quered the jury.

The Mars Society Belgium had only three prizes but would like to salute the stu­dents of Don Bosco College and those of the Athénée Royal de Ciney for their mag­nif­i­cent projects.

The three win­ning schools, in addi­tion to their respec­tive prizes, will meet astro­naut Dirk Frimout on May 30 at the SCK CEN nuclear cen­ter in Mol, where the impact of cos­mic radi­a­tion is stud­ied with a view to future mis­sions to Mars. On this occa­sion, stu­dents will be able to vis­it the brand new TABLOO exhi­bi­tion and immerse them­selves in an invis­i­ble world and expe­ri­ence the Big Bang and cos­mic rays in a fun and inter­ac­tive way. It is Sarah Baatout, hon­orary mem­ber 2021, who was also a jury in this com­pe­ti­tion, who will wel­come the students.



The con­test was spon­sored by the Euro Space Center the Journal des enfants and Editions Casterman.

Pictures here: