Mission to Mars

Students in biology class at Skyline High School were given a challenging design project as they explored the effect of increasing human population on the biosphere.  

Problem:  Humans have overpopulated the Earth and a large part of the population will be moving to colonize Mars.  

Challenge:  Create a prototype of a biome found on Earth that could be built on Mars with improvements that would alleviate some of the problems we are facing on Earth (such as pollution, overuse of natural resources and loss of habitat to development).  

Students did research on the current environmental issues facing ecosystems, human population growth over the past 100 years and projected growth for the next three decades, and alternate forms of energy, housing and development.  With all of this information, students built some innovative and creative prototypes of biomes using materials such as straws, yarn, q-tips, pipe cleaners, construction paper and cardboard.  

When their prototypes were completed, students created a Google slide presentation for their “clients” (scientists, NASA, local government, families) explaining the relationship between the abiotic and biotic features of ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles, and the place of humans within these systems.  Their slides also explained how their new and improved biomes had “fixes” that would solve the current problems of energy production, natural resource use, food production, housing and development, and habitat loss we are currently facing on Earth.  

One particularly innovative design included having people in the rainforest living in tree houses rather than in developments on the ground leaving more land open for grazing and agriculture without having to resort to deforestation.  Another group used solar panels in deserts to capture the abundant sunlight to provide a renewable source of energy.