The capstone project for Unit 2 is called “Marooned on Mars,” and it’s based on the movie The Martian. In the film, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded alone on the planet, and the nearest help is 140 million miles away. The question students will be trying to answer is “What would Mark need to do to survive?” or more specifically “How could chemistry save him?”
Mark is alive and healthy in the solar-powered living quarters, and he is well protected from the elements. So his survival will mostly be a matter of resources. In order to survive until a rescue mission can reach him, there are three basic resources that Mark must obtain: oxygen, water, and food.
Over the course of the project, students will play the role of NASA chemists, instructing Mark on how to solve each of the problems above. Unfortunately their materials are very limited. The mission was only supposed to last 31 days, so they will have to make do with whatever supplies Mark has access to: beakers, funnels, batteries, PH strips, waste-water, matches, sodium carbonate, etc. At the end of the week, students will hand in a lab report that details their instructions. The report must contain materials lists, lab procedures, pictures, and anything else that Mr. Watney might find useful.
Today was simply the introduction. Students took notes on the PowerPoint presentation posted below. Then for the last 15 minutes of class, they took inventory of Mark Watney’s supplies.