Project Mars

A curriculum-linked Project Based Learning unit with a focus on Year 9 chemistry and physics using The Mars Lab.


Alice Leung, Head science teacher at Merrylands HS, talks about Project Mars

downloadDownload all resources for Project Mars


DEVELOP your class’ science understanding and 21st century skills by challenging them to identify questions and draw evidence-based conclusions using scientific methods.

Project Mars is a 5-6 week Project Based Learning unit that will provide your class with the opportunity to experience the joy of scientific discovery and nurture their natural curiosity.

Learners will be drawn through the curriculum by a meaningful driving question to explore:

Could Mars have supported life?

In their attempt to answer this question, they will need to work with others and use a variety of science inquiry skills.  Throughout the project they will identify questions to explore, learn science content, design a research question and hypothesis, conduct a scientific investigation using the Mars Lab robotic rover and its on-board scientific instruments, collect and analyse data, interpret the results, report on findings and make a formal presentation of their findings to the Mars Lab science advisors.

In-line with the Australian Science Curriculum, Project Mars will create a compelling reason for your class to need to know about important chemistry and physics concepts and the practices used to develop scientific knowledge.  And that’s the key to increasing young people’s motivation to learn — give them a real need to know, beyond simply getting good grades. [curriculum links]

Designed for Year 9 Science, but adaptable to other years, Project Mars contains 24 individual lesson plans. With scientific knowledge and skills at their core, these lessons will guide you, the teacher, through the unit using the Project Based Learning approach.

Each of the lessons includes detailed information to help you:

  • plan the project and schedule key milestones
  • manage your class and the project with useful strategies
  • teach and assess content knowledge
  • support students in preparing their culminating products
  • establish a class culture for effective PBL.


Australian Science Curriculum Links

PROJECT MARS makes many links to all three strands of the national
science curriculum. The following table shows the broad links
according to the curriculum’s Years 9 content descriptions. Specific
curriculum-linked learning outcomes are shown in the side bar for
each individual lesson.

 Year 9

Science Understanding

Science as a Human Endeavour

Science Inquiry Skills

Chemical sciences

All matter is made of atoms which are composed of protons, neutrons and electrons ACSSU177curriculum-table-spacer

Physical sciences

Energy transfer through different mediums can be explained using wave and particle models ACSSU182

Nature and development of science

Scientific understanding, including models and theories, are contestable and are refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community ACSHE157

Advances in scientific understanding often rely on developments in technology and technological advances are often linked to scientific discoveries ACSHE158curriculum-table-spacer

Use and influence of science

People can use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they should accept claims, explanations or predictions ACSHE160

Advances in science and emerging sciences and technologies can significantly affect people’s lives, including generating new career opportunities ACSHE161

Questioning and predicting

Formulate questions or hypotheses that can be investigated scientifically ACSIS164curriculum-table-spacer

Planning and conducting

Plan, select and use appropriate investigation methods, including field work and laboratory experimentation, to collect reliable data; assess risk and address ethical issues associated with these methods ACSIS165

Select and use appropriate equipment, including digital technologies, to systematically and accurately collect and record data ACSIS166curriculum-table-spacer

Processing and analysing data and information

Analyse patterns and trends in data, including describing relationships between variables and identifying inconsistencies ACSIS169

Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence ACSIS170curriculum-table-spacer


Evaluate conclusions, including identifying sources of uncertainty and possible alternative explanations, and describe specific ways to improve the quality of the data ACSIS171

Critically analyse the validity of information in secondary sources and evaluate the approaches used to solve problems ACSIS172



Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations ACSIS174