Ask for a show of hands: How many of you got to go on a vacation this summer? Ask some of those who responded to tell briefly about where they went.
- What did you need to take with you in order to have a good time? (Answers will vary depending on where your students went. They may say they needed swimsuits and sunscreen, or jackets if they went somewhere that got cold at night. If they traveled in the car for a long time, they may have downloaded movies to watch on the way. If they went camping, they needed everything from tents and sleeping bags to food and possibly water.)
- What if you found out you were going to be gone for a whole year—what would you take, and how would you decide what you needed? (Allow your students to speculate. Remind them that there might be weather changes; they might need to bring a variety of clothing. They might need extra spending money or phones and laptops—maybe even books to keep up with school. If no one brings it up, remind them that if they went camping, they might need water purification systems, a comprehensive first-aid kit, and a generator.)
Figuring out everything you could possibly need for a year is really, really hard—especially when you are going someplace that doesn’t have basic necessities.
It’s easy to take things like air and sunlight and water for granted, but it can become really complicated when they aren’t readily available. Scientists have been doing experiments for decades to see how we might one day be able to build self-sustaining habitats to survive on the moon or on Mars. As the possibility of sending people to colonize Mars becomes more and more of a reality, more experiments are being conducted.
Play this video for your students [1:44].
NASA Seeking US volunteers for Mars simulation
- What are some of the things the scientists might have to manage in order to have a self-sustaining habitat? (Possible answers might include: food supply, space, water, light, human relationships.)
- What would happen if you went someplace like Mars and didn’t realize until you got there that you forgot something important—something necessary for survival? (Allow students to speculate and eventually realize that since it takes nine months to get to Mars from Earth, you wouldn’t be able to have an astronaut bring it to you in time, and you wouldn’t survive).
The reason scientists make experiments like the one we just saw is so they can figure out everything they think they might need to sustain life on a trip to a place they’ve never been before. But as humans, it is pretty impossible to figure out every single thing needed to sustain life in every single situation. You would need to have the super wisdom of God to figure it out exactly…and that’s just what we are going to talk about this morning.
How long would a trip to Mars take?