‘Dare to Dream, Explore and Discover…’
Traditionally, there has been a lack of interest and apathy on the part of the government and more importantly, the general population, about space science in the United Kingdom. The Mars Society UK will be setting out to remedy this in January 2001 with its new flagship educational programme, Generation Mars.
Generation Mars is an educational competition aimed at the 11-18 year olds of this country – and not just the ones who are interested in space and science. Unlike similar space/science competitions in the past, Generation Mars is specifically targeted at the youth who aren’t interested in space, because these are the people who really have to reached; Generation Mars’ main aim is not to preach to the converted. With the slogan, ‘Dare to Dream, Explore and Discover’, Generation Mars is split up into three categories.
‘Dream’ will appeal to the artisticly minded by challenging students to produce artwork, music, poems and sculpture on a Mars related theme. ‘Explore’ follows up this creative theme by being a science fiction writing section. Finally, ‘Discover’ will stimulate minds by asking students to write on Mars related scientific topics.
Peter Loftus, Resources Director for the Mars Society UK comments, "As a father of three kids, I strongly believe our children deserve an education that gives them more than literacy, numeracy and a head filled with facts. If we are to produce tomorrows leaders and thinkers we must help them to gain an education that gives them time to dream, space to explore, and room to discover."
The competition will be backed up by a large amount of original educational information including interviews with leading scientists, interactive Mars atlases, videos and Mars art and science fiction.
Generation Mars will be judged by a panel of Judges including: top science fiction writer Stephen Baxter (author of ‘Voyage’), Professor Colin Pillinger (Beagle 2 Mars Lander) and science fiction illustrator Danny Flynn – several other judges of similar importance are still to be announced.
Adrian Hon, the Mars Society Chair of Youth Outreach who conceived the idea of Generation Mars (or ‘GenMars’ as it is quickly becoming known) with Katherine Harris in Canada said, "GenMars has a real potential to inspire and motivate the youth of Great Britain to realise what Mars and space exploration really mean."
The message of Generation Mars will be sent via mailshots to every single secondary school in the United Kingdom (roughly 6000); these mailshots will contain posters, leaflets, multi-media CDs and information sheets. The Mars Society will complement this campaign with a series of talks and presentation at venues across the country and appearances on all forms of media.
A Generation Mars website will hold much of the content that is on the CD, making it accessible by the entire world. The website will also be the primary method of entry to the competition (the work-in-progress website is online at http://www.genmars.com)
Executive Director of the Mars Society UK, Bo Maxwell, said, "This is an important milestone in the development of the Mars Society here in the UK. The key to our future development,  not just on Mars, but in space as whole, is our ability to capture the hearts and minds of our young people and provide for them the kind of environment where career opportunities in space research, science and technology are a reality. In order to achieve that, it is essential educators across the country are empowered to promote greater interest and awareness of space activities for students and adults alike."
Generation Mars represents a nationwide effort that will target the true cause of Britain’s less-than-stellar space record by stimulating a grassroots revival of the real excitement and potential that space holds among the youth. Funding for Generation Mars is expected to come principly from a PPARC grant, but a significant portion will also be raised by the Mars Society UK directly.
For this reason, Generation Mars needs all the funding help possible. If you believe in increasing Britain’s role in space exploration, then by making a donation towards the costs of Generation Mars you could make a significant difference to our future in space. If you are interested in making a donation to Generation Mars, please contact Adrian Hon at adrian@genmars.com
It is hoped that Generation Mars (UK) will be run concurrently with a similar competition named Generation Mars (Canada) run by Katherine Harris – which will increase public outreach and media opportunities world wide.
Generation Mars is being co-ordinated by the Mars Society UK Education Taskforce, directed by Adrian Hon, Mars Society Chair of Youth Outreach.
All enquiries about Generation Mars should be directed to adrian@genmars.com
Adrian Hon – adrian@vavatch.co.uk – ICQ: 2526383
Mars Society Chair of Youth Outreach – http://www.marssociety.org Website: http://www.vavatch.co.ukhttp://www.genmars.com