Utah students test ‘Mission to Mars’ project at Weber State University

OGDEN, Utah – Does life exist in outer space? Dozens of students in northern Utah explored the possibility at Weber State University.

For the past six months, students have been working in the classroom designing their habitats, and Wednesday they got to put their mission into action.

The fifth graders filled the Swenson Gym building with inflatable plastic habitats aimed to simulate those that might support life on Mars.

“They're 12-feet by 12-feet by 8-feet high; It's just plastic and duct tape,” said Lance Butler, Hill Air Force Base STEM Coordinator.

Inside the plastic shelters, students designed life support systems to help them survive.

"It has like cool stuff on it. We have a dragon. We have temperature stuff and exits,” said Sunshine Eads, a DaVinci Academy student.

Students also created a uniform and mission patch.

“Our name is Galileo Galaxius,” said Sophie Peterson, New Bridge Elementary student.

“Then they're going to create a saga that's going to explain or talk about their whole adventure getting here,” Butler said.

The fun, hands-on project culminates with link up day The 34 habitats are linked together so kids can go from habitat to habitat. Students explored and even ate lunch inside the shelters.

“It's hot in here and it stinks,” said Randi Nye, another DaVinci Academy student.

The mission is made possible by a partnership with the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology and the Hill Air Force Base STEM Outreach program.

“We want the kids to know how to solve the problems, how to come up with new creations, and new inventions,” Butler said.

“We want them to get excited about science and technology, engineering and math—and then take that through high school,” said Dana Dellinger, director of WSU Center for Technology.

This has become such a popular program that organizers had to split it up into two days. Another roughly 200 students will get their chance to participate Thursday.