STEAM’s Mission to Mars inspires younger students

By Susana Tomaz

Our Pupuke Kahui Ako joined forces with our STEAM Student Leaders (Years 9 to 13) to celebrate Matariki and International Women in Engineering Day and tackle hands-on the under-representation of Māori, Pasifika and girls in STEAM.

Our Senior and Junior students led the “Mission to Mars” STEAM workshop for Primary and Intermediate students, which focused on applying STEAM skills to a variety of activities as part of their Mission to Mars training and relating these skills to some of the STEAM careers such as engineer, doctor, architect, pilot, programmer.

The workshop was used to pilot activities designed to be delivered to a greater number of students through the Pupule Kahui Ako STEAM Power-ED community event later in the year.

“Matariki signals the beginning of the new year as the constellation appears in the night sky. Our ancestors once used the stars to navigate our world. A new year is beginning on Mars too and it is your chance to navigate through the stars and to Mars! Using the traditional ways of our tupuna combined with modern technology. Get your brains warmed up for some challenges. Who can make it to astronaut status?”

Here’s some feedback from participating students:

“The Mission to Mars workshop was an amazing experience for the primary and intermediate students to get a feel of the future ahead in STEAM roles. There were many hands-on technology and small projects the students got to experience and work on. I was leading the Virtual Reality workshop. The students viewed a short virtual reality experience of Life on Mars in 2117.

The students were amazed by what they saw. Both the technology itself and the content they were viewing blew them away! I had many students expressing how much they loved the VR headsets and it was truly inspiring to take this lead position and providing the opportunity for others to view the future through these evolving technologies. In STEAM we get to programme our own virtual world and this was a great stepping stone for the younger ones.”

  • Shreeji Patel


“In the ‘Mission to Mars’ workshop, I led the activity ‘Driving a Martian Rover on the surface of Mars’. We simulated Mars’ uneven terrain and used Spheros robots as Martian rovers to train students to navigate the challenging martian terrain. 

It was great to see students, some from my old school,  trying their hardest to understand and code the Spheros to deliver their martian supplies without crashing into obstacles.”

  • Damla Temizsoy