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A message from Mars

Stranded astronaut Captain Kernow sends your class a distress signal by satellite link. Can you help?

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Workshop overview

What happens: Your students receive a distress signal from a stranded astronaut over 50 million km away on Mars. Working as Mars Mission Trouble Shooters your students have one task – to keep the astronaut alive. Life support systems on Mars are down and the majority of the base is in ruins with the exception of an Eden style biome containing 20 banana plants and an escape shuttle over 10km away from the main base. Should the astronaut remain in the in the biome with the banana plants or make a run for the shuttle? Would the plants provide enough oxygen? Would the astronaut even make it to the shuttle?

The students go on a mission into Eden’s Outdoor Garden and Rainforest Biome to collect data about banana plants, photosynthesis, respiration, energy use, and the calorie content of foods.

Back in the classroom the students use the data they have collected, together with secondary data, to make the necessary calculations and advise the stranded astronaut on the best course of action. 

Location: This takes place in a workshop room inside our purpose built education centre, as well as the Rainforest Biome and Outdoor Gardens.

Skills and curriculum links

This workshop enables students to:

  • Review and recall the chemical equations for photosynthesis and respiration and where the processes take place.
  • Explain how the processes are connected through the living world and their significance.
  • Use a variety of equipment to collect scientific data.
  • Determine and complete the correct calculations required to solve scientific challenges.
  • Justify decision-making using their own data collection, calculations and ideas about science.

*This workshop reviews the processes of photosynthesis and respiration set within the context of an engaging, problem-solving narrative that aims to give them the bigger picture about the importance of these life processes. It does not provide an introduction to photosynthesis or respiration and therefore relies upon the fact that students participating should already have covered the topics in class.

We've designed the workshop to help teachers cover the following subject areas:

In KS3 Science, students should be taught about the reactants in, and products of, photosynthesis, and a word summary for photosynthesis, the dependence of almost all life on Earth on the ability of photosynthetic organisms, energy requirements in a healthy diet, energy values of different foods, aerobic respiration in living organisms and a word summary for aerobic respiration. Students should be taught about speed and the quantitative relationship between average speed, distance and time. Students should be taught to use appropriate techniques, apparatus, and materials during fieldwork, make and record observations and measurements using a range of methods, understand and use SI units and use and derive simple equations and carry out appropriate calculations.

In KS4 Science, students should be taught about photosynthesis as the key process for food production and therefore biomass for life, the process of photosynthesis, factors affecting the rate of photosynthesis, the importance and process of aerobic respiration and that organic compounds are used as fuels in cellular respiration. Students should be taught about making and recording observations and measurements using a range of apparatus and methods, interpreting observations and other data, making inferences and drawing conclusions, presenting reasoned explanations, recognising the importance of scientific quantities and understanding how they are determined, using SI units and interconverting units. 

Practical information

The workshop costs £5.80 per pupil, with a minimum charge of £116 per group (includes VAT). Maximum group size is 35. The cost includes:

  • a facilitated workshop with our Education Team
  • free access to the Eden site for the day
  • all equipment needed for the workshop
  • free teaching resources enabling your class to prepare for the workshop and to follow up on the activity (download a sample copy)
  • a personal welcome from the Education Team at the entrance
  • a base for your bags in our purpose-built education centre, The Core
  • a space to eat your own lunch
  • free entry for accompanying adult helpers, whose participation is essential to the success of the day (please note our suggested adult/pupil ratios are as follows: Early Years Foundation Stage, 1:3; Years 1-3, 1:6; Years 4 and up, 1:10). You’re welcome to bring more helpers if you’d like; for a charge of £14.75 per adult
  • a free preparatory visit to Eden for teachers wanting to plan their school trip, which should be booked in advance

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