Generation Mars UK-Canada Youth Competition Launches Today
16 Apr 2001
(Source: Generation Mars)
UK Contact: Adrian Hon
Phone: (+44) (0)7733 266665
Canada Contact: Katherine Harris
Phone: (905) 873-4821
Generation Mars, the world's first international space competition run for youth by youth, is launching today. Created by two teenagers from the UK and Canada and sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency and the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, Generation Mars aims to stimulate interest and increase awareness of space and Mars exploration among 11-18 year olds in the United Kingdom and Canada.
The competition is split up into three categories, Explore, Dream and Discover, and is designed to appeal to as broad a range of students as possible. 'Explore' will ask aspiring authors to write speculative fiction about Mars. 'Dream' continues this creative theme by challenging students to produce artwork, music, poems or sculpture on related to Mars. Finally, 'Discover' will stimulate minds by asking students to write about scientific topics concerning Mars.
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 tomorrow's leaders and thinkers we must help them to gain an education that gives them space to explore, time to dream, and room to discover."
Judges of the Generation Mars competition include award-winning UK authors Stephen Baxter and Pete Crowther as well as NASA Mars scientist Dr. Geoffrey Landis. Extensive Mars educational resources were developed specially for the competition in conjunction with the Mars Academy in Argentina and the UK National Space Science Centre. All educational materials are freely available at the Generation Mars website. Every single element of the competition was developed and coordinated by students under 18 across the world.
Adrian Hon, the Mars Society Chair of Youth Outreach who conceived the idea of Generation Mars with Katherine Harris in Canada, said, "GenMars has a real potential to inspire and motivate the youth of Great Britain and Canada to realize what Mars and space exploration really mean. Importantly, it is directly aimed at students who are not already interested in space or science."
Generation Mars' prize fund will be shared between the two countries and include category prizes of ?500 ($750 USD), as well as numerous runner-up prizes bringing the total amount to over ?2000 ($3000 USD). The closing deadline of the competition is 1st September 2001, and prizes will be awarded in October 2001.
The 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."
An aspiring astronaut herself, Katherine Harris, the Canadian coordinator of GenMars said, "As a bilingual competition, accepting entries in both French and English, Generation Mars strives to be the most inclusive and innovative space competition for students in Canada and the UK. The youth of today are the scientists, artists, visionaries, authors and astronauts of the future. Mars is waiting, and someday our generation is going to reach it."
Adrian Hon, 18, is studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. Katherine Harris, also 18, is in her final year of high school in Ontario, Canada. Both Adrian and Katherine are enthusiastic space exploration advocates and are no strangers to developing educational resources. Last year, they jointly created the NASA award-winning 'Astrobiology: The Living Universe' educational website which has now attracted over 100,000 visits and is referenced by university astrobiology courses.
Generation Mars is being coordinated by the Mars Society UK Education Taskforce, directed by Adrian Hon. The Mars Society International is a non-profit organization based in Colorado, USA, that advocates the human exploration of Mars. Among the 4000 members are Buzz Aldrin, James Cameron, Donna Shirley (former manager of the NASA Mars Exploration Program) and Lt. Colonel Scott Horowitz (NASA astronaut).
Generation Mars: http://www.genmars.com
Mars Society International: http://www.marssociety.org
Mars Society UK: http://www.marssociety.org.uk
Mars Society Canada: http://www.marssociety.ca
Astrobiology: The Living Universe: http://library.thinkquest.org/C003763