National Research Council Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Marsville in Action: What is Marsville?

Warning Information found on this page has been archived and is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Please visit NRC's new site for the most recent information.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.

Marsville PosterThe Canadian National Marsville Program (CNM) is a unique program derived from the Challenger Learning Center's Marsville program. The goal of CNM is to simulate habitation of the "Red Planet." Students prepare for their adventure by studying space exploration and the planet Mars and then apply their knowledge as they create mission patches, design and build models of human life-support systems, construct Martian habitats and share their findings with other students from across Canada.

Each year the students' mission patches are mounted on a special poster that is available to all participants.

Participating students work in teams. The primary task of each team is to design and build a model of one of nine different life-support systems. Life-support systems include; air, communications, energy, food, health and recreation, temperature, transportation, waste and water. Life-support systems are chosen by the teacher and students, and can be based on curriculum requirements.

Marsville Activities
Marsville Rover

Over a three month period, starting on January 28 and running to late April, student teams work cooperatively to clarify the requirements for their life-support systems, brainstorm solutions and construct working models. Students are able to share their results and challenge teams across Canada using Team Blogs.

Why January 28?
January 28 is the anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. Families of shuttle crew members created the original Marsville program as homage to their loved ones' passion for space exploration.

Teachers can recruit volunteer scientists and engineers as Marsville mentors. Mentors can offer guidance during the research and design of life-support systems and can respond online to student questions. In addition to or in lieu of building life-support systems, teams can choose to develop and build a remotely-controlled Mars Rover. Students can also take part in other space-related science and engineering activities, keep a mission log and even do astronaut training!

Marsville Activities
Marsville Activities

The program culminates in a "Link-up Day." Teams from across a region come together to create Martian habitats in student-constructed, class-size plastic domes where the life-support systems are installed.

Marsville is non-competitive – the message is cooperative problem-solving!

The Teacher's section of the CNM web site will provide you with everything you need to get started in this amazing program.


Follow the links below to blast off!
Program Overview
Planning & Assessment
Program Logistics
Program Support
Program Registration