Mars students, district rewarded for taking Mars Challenge

August 9, 2019 Cranberry Local News

ADAMS TWP — Students in the Mars Area School District fared well in June's Meet the Mars Challenge, and now the district is receiving some of the benefits.

Mars Mayor Gregg Hartung and Meet the Mars Challenge chairwoman Shelly Watson on Tuesday presented district officials with a check for $950. The figure was based on the number of district students participating in the event, Watson said.

The challenge is part of the Mars Exploration Celebration, which is held in conjunction with Mars New Year. Any student in second- through eighth- grade can compete by working with a scenario in which 100 “Earthlings” are sent to colonize Mars.

“The student determines a specific problem, challenge or need that this colony would face,” Watson said. “They try to solve it.”

It is a STEAM competition that's judged by regional business owners and officials. Forty-nine students submitted 35 entries, with 15 entries coming from the Mars district. Of the $950, $400 goes to the elementary school, $250 goes to the Centennial school and $300 goes to the middle school.

“According to the number of students from those buildings (who) participated,” Watson said.

Hartung provided a fact sheet showing eight elementary, three Centennial and four middle school students participated from the district.

The money didn't just benefit the Mars school district. Participants, according to Watson, were from as far away as Virginia.

“It did hit more to home,” Watson said. “But it's starting to spread out.”

The Mars school district had eight winning entries amounting to $3,900 in award money.

“A special thanks goes to your teachers for giving our students another opportunity,” Watson told board members.

“I was blown away,” board President Dayle Ferguson said. “(By) just the effort and the creativity and the really just out-of-the-box thinking that was just so evident.”

Watson said she looks forward to involving Mars students in future challenges.