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Martian Sun Times
Detailed Learning Objectives


Students will become weather reporters for the Martian Sun-Times newspaper. They will gather, interpret and compare current weather information for Mars and Earth.


  • Inferring
  • Interpretating Data
  • Identifying Variables
  • Graphing


Students will need copies of the activity worksheets, Mars Stats, Earth Stats, and Temperature and Windspeed Conversion Charts. Several Earth globes and/or atlases will also be needed. Optional: book resources about the Dust Bowl.

How to Print Out Worksheets:

The activity worksheets and stats sheets are provided in html format for online viewing. They can be printed out directly from your browser. We suggest that the student be provided with a printed version of each activity sheet.

In the near future, better-looking PDF versions of the activity sheets will be available for printing out.

Lesson Plans

Tell students that they are earthling weather reporters for an internet newspaper called the Martian Sun-Times. They will write articles for the newspaper comparing weather on Mars and Earth.

We recommend that you assign a team to each investigation. It is possible for students to collect data and answer the questions in one period if there is a machine for each group.

Another period will be necessary for them to discuss and write their article. Encourage students to use their factual information but to consider one of the following formats when writing their articles: travel brochure, human interest - or Martian interest - story, fashion report, disaster report, weather predictions, etc.

Your role will be to answer questions for students and assist students in their interpretations. As always is the case, it's important for you to have done the investigations before teaching them. Occasionally, you may need to further explain some science concept found in the "Stats" sheets. We encourage you or your students to email us your best articles. We will try to respond and may post the best on this web site.

How to Email Articles and Send Pictures

At the bottom of each on-line investigation is a link allowing students to email their articles to the Martian Sun-Times. The best student articles submitted will be included on this web site. Articles can be in plain text as part of the email message, or in a word processing format (Word, WordPerfect, etc.) attached to the email.

Graphics can be included by creating files on-line, or scanning in hand-drawn creations, and including them in the email submission as attachments. Jpeg and gif formats work the best for transmitting pictures; use a graphics program such as Photoshop to convert to those formats.

How one attaches a file to an email message depends on the browser one is using. In Netscape, for example, click on the "attachment" button.

To email for help, or lesson suggestions, send mail to mstteach@vertex.ucls.uchicago.edu.

A Note on Download Times

The images used in these investigations are quite large. If you have a slow network connection, the download times can be considerable. You can get away with turning off autoload of images (see the preferences for your browser) in the main page and on the investigation sheets, but the weather maps must be downloaded for use.

Summary of Investigations:

Investigation I: Seasons on Mars: Endless Summer Vacation?
(How Long is Summer on Mars?)

Students will infer the current season on the northern hemisphere of Mars for the current date. They will also estimate the length of seasons on Mars after reading about the causes of them.

Investigation II: Weather Forecasts for Earthlings and Martians.
(Comparing Weather for Mars and Where You Live).

Students will compare temperatures and wind speeds on Mars and Earth where they live as well as note the temperature ranges across the 2 planets.

Investigation III: A Martian Summer Day
(Comparing Temperatures for Summer on Mars and the Place You Live)

Students find out the typical high and low summer temperatures for Mars. They also compare temperatures for the current date on Mars and Earth for 30° N latitude.

Investigation IV: Stormy Mars: Dust Gets In My Eyes
(Finding Out About Dust Storms On Mars)

Students discover the effect of Martian dust storms on temperatures. They find out what might cause the storms and infer the length of one storm.

Investigation V: Probing Earth and Mars: What Should We Pack?
(Finding Out Temperatures At Various Landing Sites)

If MASA (Martian Aeronautics and Space Administration) sent astronauts to Earth to places that match the latitude and longitude of Viking and Pathfinder landing sites, where would they land and what weather conditions would they encounter?

Investigation VI: Life on Mars: Where's The Party?
(Finding Out About The Possibility Of Life On Mars)

Students learn about the Martian meteorite that may show evidence of life there. Are any temperatures on Mars similar to Earth? Considering the environment on Mars what would a Martian look like?

Acknowledgements: Florence and Jeff wish to thank Phyllis Pitluga and Vivian Hoette of Adler Planetarium, Chicago and Marty Billingsley of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. You might say they helped us weather our trials and tribulations.

Investigations III and IV are based on a Planetary Society lesson called "Mars Link."

Investigation V is based on an activity in a NASA Educational Brief entitled The Exploration of Mars, EB-112, dated 5/93.