Since the Martian astronauts are probably now in school, a strong and continuous K-12 Mars education program is essential to foster interest in the younger generations. In order to be successful and attract the kind of teachers and students that will make a positive contribution to the goal of Mars exploration and settlement, this program will have to based on challenging activities that incorporate the latest technology, including Internet based projects. Additionally, it is important for local funding at the school level to provide educators with opportunities to interact with real space organizations and corporations. Examples of possible educational activities are:
á Internet based high fidelity mission simulations: Web based role playing simulations where students can become virtual astronauts and mission controllers of a manned mission.
á Chats with scientists: Web chats where students can consult Mars experts on their ongoing projects.
á Mission outreach activities: Whenever a hitchhiker mission is flown, transmit data over the Internet and let schools receive that data and analyze it cooperatively.
á A Mars Club network: Through an annual membership fee, schools can form their own Mars Clubs, receive posters and other materials and participate fully in all Web chats, projects, etc..
á Teacher workshops: An annual teacher workshop focused exclusively on Mars with featured lectures from scientists and experts.
á A Mars curriculum: A comprehensive written/electronic reference with specific activities, projects and lesson plans for the classroom at all grade levels.
á Contests: Contests that include prizes not just for the students but also for their teachers are wonderful incentives for participation.
In the authorÕs own experience, space related educational activities are very attractive to the general public and can create media repercussion that can further assist in the objective of gradually communicating the vision of Mars exploration