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Getting Dirty on Mars

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Grade Levels

Grades 5-8, Grades 9-12


Earth Science, Space Science, Planet Earth, Geology, Solar System and Planets, Mars


Lesson Plans / Activities

The Mars Phoenix lander is digging through the soil of the Red Planet and collecting samples. In this activity, students will:

-Work in cooperative groups to collect soil samples from the field, just as NASA’s robotic Phoenix Mars Mission collects samples on the Red Planet.
-Understand the properties of soils.
-Examine soils for their ability to sustain organisms.

Students will measure the soil moisture content, compare soil colors, look for biomarkers and measure pH to make their comparisons. They will then present a “Soil Properties Report.”

Teaching Tips [2MB PDF file]
Student Lab Procedures [6MB PDF file]
Student Lab Cards [51KB PDF file]