Mars Base Camp STEM Challenge Kits

— Written By mars

The race to land humans on Mars is on! The 2020 4‑H STEM Challenge will explore sending a mission to Mars with the activity, Mars Base Camp.

This year, 4-H (nationally) partnered with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Google, Bayer, Toyota, the United States Air Force, the Carnegie Institute for Science, NASA, including the NASA Astrobiology Institute ENIGMA Project and the Mars Science Laboratory mission, and Virginia Episcopal School to create activities that explore the topic of a mission to Mars.

Mars Base Camp is a collection of activities that teaches kids ages 8-14, STEM skills like mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, and agriculture. The challenge activities allow youth to develop quantitative, observational and critical thinking skills while they have fun making discoveries and designing solutions that are out of this world!

  • Landing Zone Surveyor is an unplugged activity where kids will attempt to land on Mars and discover features that are important for setting up a base camp.
  • Red Planet Odyssey is an unplugged activity where kids will use engineering skills to build a vehicle that can explore the surface of Mars.
  • Crop Curiosity is an unplugged activity where kids will learn about biology, environmental science, and agriculture to grow nutritionally efficient food on Mars.
  • Insight from Mars is an activity that can be done unplugged or online that teaches kids to code and share a discovery they made on Mars using CS First and Scratch.
red mars

There are two different sized Mars Base Camp kits to ensure young people everywhere, regardless of internet access or family resources, can participate:

  • Family-sized Kit: Includes materials for 1-4 youth to participate in the STEM Challenge at the same time, enabling families to participate from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
  • Educator Kit: Includes materials for 12 youth to participate in the STEM Challenge at the same time. Kits can be used in spaces where physical distancing and other safety precautions can be followed.

Each of these kits are available for checkout from the Yancey County Extension Office. Please contact Jordan English at for more information. You can also preview the kits and learn more at shop 4-H.