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Pre-Launch Checklist

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Before you Start

  • Familiarize yourself with Canadian National Marsville Web site to learn more about this exciting programme.
  • Review the additional resource material available to assist in the implementation of the program. Get acquainted with Team Blogs - the primary communication tool connecting teachers, students, and mentors from across Canada.
  • Determine which activities and experiments are appropriate for the class - it is not necessary to conduct all of the activities. See the Digging Deeper section
  • Decide what materials and equipment are required to complete the activities. See the Design Materials for a list of potential items.


  • Consider the timeframe for the program - use the Mission Schedule as a guide. Note that several activities are ongoing and there will be overlap.
  • Some of the activities are optional. You will need to determine the length of time required to conduct the different parts of the mission.
  • Decide how long and how often students will work on activities. Will it be on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Provide ways to extend activities for students who may wish to go further.
  • Make a large class chart indicating the key dates for specific activities.


  • Make the connections with your own curriculum goals. Remember that Canadian National Marsville is a cross-curricular program that connects many curriculum areas.
  • Consider how to integrate space literature into the unit. Collect a variety of fiction and non-fiction books related to space and space travel. Work with the librarian.
  • Include different forms of writing throughout the program - technical, report, letter, and creative.
  • Expand student's experience with technical reading such as manuals and "how to" guides.

Team Members

  • Think about the roles students will play on the student teams for the classroom portion of the program. See the Habitat Teams page for a list of roles. Consider also the roles for Link-up Day activities.
  • Provide opportunities throughout the program for students to work individually, with a partner, and in a team.
  • Consider large group instruction when first introducing new topics and the correct scientific method for reporting and recording information in experiments.
  • Consult the Schools section on the Canadian National Marsville Web site to locate other classes working on the program. Contact them via Team Blog.

Background Knowledge and Skills

  • Assess whether students have the essential background knowledge and skills required for the activities. Visit the Mission Training section for the Astronaut Training Program activities.
  • Determine how particular skills and knowledge can be acquired if this background is limited. Review topics such as:
    • technical reading and writing
    • report writing
    • letter writing - encourage students to write for information and resource material
    • conducting experiments using the scientific method
    • use of scale in designing and constructing models and prototypes

Technical Components

  • Arrange adequate computer and Internet time to ensure the programme runs smoothly. Students will need ample access to these resources to complete their tasks.
  • Set-up a Team Blog for each team in the programme. This must be done before students can add information to their blog.
  • Visit the Technology Skills Checklist to confirm that students have the skills needed for the activities.
  • Send introductory messages in the Team Blogs.
  • Have each student sign the School Board Acceptable Use Policy, if applicable.
  • Set up bookmarks on the Internet to allow for easier access to appropriate websites.
  • Obtain software required for graphics, desktop publishing, database and spreadsheet applications.
  • Locate scanners and digital cameras that are available through your school's resources.
  • Create a common work space on the computer for each team to save their work as a group.

Work and Display Areas

  • Decide on the work space within the class - design and technology activities require room!
  • Consider where "in-progress" work will be stored during the programme.
  • Determine a location for the finished models - make sure students have the opportunity to share their finished models with a wide audience prior to the Link-Up Day event and at the conclusion of the program.


  • Visit the Resources section to gather additional resource material related to living in space.
  • Locate equipment and materials for the science experiments.
  • Collect material for the design and technology component of the programme. Send a letter home (see a sample letter) asking for donations of design material.
  • Contact the Canadian Space Resource Centre for material.
  • Pair your class with an older group of students who can act as technology or science "buddies" either in person or online.
  • Get in touch with a mentor as early as possible to make suitable arrangements. Check the Mentors section for more information.


  • Review or teach different methods of recordkeeping. Introduce the concept of an electronic portfolio.
  • Use a word processing program. It will be very important that students develop an effective method of filing their work. In many of the activities, they will be expected to make notes and keep track of the results of their work.
  • Provide additional strategies such as checklists, charts or forms. Encourage students to create their own forms for recording results. Discuss alternate methods for recording and managing information - duo tang folders, file cards, 3-ring binder, computer files.
  • Review the use of word processing, database and spreadsheet applications to record information.
  • Practice these applications so that students will have the prerequisite skills.
  • Students can use a Mission Log and Team Blog during the program to record and communicate results.

Community Involvement

  • Involve family members and the community once you have introduced the program to students, when possible.
  • Send letters home explaining the purpose of the program, seeking support and resources. See sample letters.
  • Invite members of the community to speak to the class about careers, science and technology and space travel. See section on Mentors.
  • Review the Mission Log carefully and determine who can be called upon to "approve" the various aspects of the team work.