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July 07, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario

Students across Canada were challenged to survive on the Red Planet during this year's Canadian National Marsville – an NRC-led science outreach program that invites students from grades six to eight to plan the first human habitation on Mars.

"Hey Martians! How are you? We are creating a water supply system and we might be making a pump because scientists think that Mars could have water only three feet below the surface. The only thing we cannot do is bring water to Mars. If we did, it would be too heavy." Marsville blog entry

More than 2,100 students participated in locations across Canada, including Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria and Whitehorse. They spent three months researching space travel and the Martian environment, then built model survival systems to meet human needs such as food, energy and transportation. Finally, on April 20th – "Link-up Day" – students in each region came together to showcase their survival systems and build a simulated Martian community of inflatable plastic pods.

Science mentors quiz students on their model survival systems
Science mentors quiz students on their model survival systems

This year, Canadian astronaut Julie Payette made a live appearance in Whitehorse, where she talked to students about space travel.

In 2006, NRC took over leadership of the national Marsville program, creating a student friendly Web site as well as a Marsville Blog. "Our students were on [the blog] regularly – reading, writing and communicating with kids across Canada," says Ottawa teacher Richard Simpson. "It was awesome – a great opportunity for the kids."

NRC's Science Outreach program aims to make science exciting and inspire youth to pursue careers in science and technology in recognition of the need to enhance the supply of highly qualified professionals in Canada.

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National Research Council of Canada

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