Mars XXI: Is A Human Colony On Mars Possible?


Mars XXI: Is A Human Colony On Mars Possible?

Affiliation(s)/ Institution

Universitat Politècnica De Catalunya – Campus Del Baix Llobregat

Email addresses

Project funded by

Diputació de barcelona, ajuntament de castelldefels, ajuntament de gavà, ajuntament del prat de llobregat, ajuntament de sant just desvern, ajuntament de sant vicenç dels horts, Ajuntament de viladecans

Promoter name and country

Universitat politècnica de Catalunya (Espanya), Diputació de Barcelona (Espanya)

Type of provider


Area of implementation

  • urban
  • local

Context and motivation of the project - legislative background/obligations, institutional policy, institutional structures

Since 2008, Barcelona Provincial Council and BarcelonaTech university (UPC) have been working closely to encourage students to choose scientific and technical careers and to boost academic success. Barcelona Provincial Council has a recognised track record for its actions in academic success and guidance policies, and the university has added to this its role as a driving force for social, economic and educational progress. The high number of students who do not obtain a compulsory secondary education (ESO) diploma is a matter of concern. Beyond the aspects concerning the country’s competitiveness and development, we believe that has a very significant impact on people’s quality of life, and even more so if we consider access to knowledge as an important factor for social welfare and cohesion. Furthermore, in recent years we have witnessed a decrease in the popularity of STEM careers. It is necessary to stimulate interest in these careers to avoid reaching a situation that is detrimental to our growth as a country.

Aims of the project

(1) Encourage students not to leave their studies early. (2) Assist in providing academic and professional guidance. (3) Work as a team and by projects, assuming different responsibilities. (4) Overcome prejudices regarding university and STEM subjects.

Target group

  • students

Description of the target group

Students in the upper years of compulsory secondary education at risk of dropping out of school for different reasons (including lack of motivation, of academic role models in their environment or of self confidence, and difficult academic pathways)

Staff (selection, evaluation, training, promotion)

Scientific coordination: specialist university lecturer/researcher with a doctorate Project development coordination: university administration staff Execution of group work: young doctorate students Support staff: undergraduate interns A total of 15 members of project staff are involved each time the project is implemented.

Methodological approach, activities implemented

Each project involves five sessions of approximately 4.5 hours in which 9 groups of 12 students each analyse the viability of a human colony on Mars. These sessions are held over the course of two or three weeks on alternate days, so they can be combined with normal school work. The focus is primarily practical, but there is some introduction to theory as well. Emphasis is placed on group work and participation dynamics.

Results and impact - data of program internal/ external evaluation, beneficiary satisfaction, the impact of the didactical practices at individual and institutional level

1,124 young people from 35 secondary schools in 7 different municipalities have taken part in the Mars XXI project since 2008. We have designed some surveys to assess the impact of the project in different areas, with questionnaires to be filled in before and after the project. The results are very positive, especially in terms of key aspects such as motivation, self-confidence and group work. These aspects are become key for helping the students take control of their learning process, and therefore they have an active role in searching for and guiding their learning pathways. The levels of satisfaction are very high and this is reflected in the growth of the project, the commitment of all the parties involved and impact on the students’ pathways.

Conclusions, lessons learned

The principal conclusion is that giving students the opportunity to experiment and to take part in experiences in different settings where they can put their skills into practice is extremely powerful in terms of finding motivation that will help with academic and professional guidance.

Directions of further development/ Transferability, replicability

The Mars XXI methodology can be applied and replicated in many contexts and activities, and we would like to do so in the future.

Type of ESL (early school leaving) practice

  • Prevention

Web references (url, social media presence)

Parameters on which the practice is applicable (check those appropriate)

  • Accessibility
  • Methodologies of provision
  • Competences and skills for practitioners