We Wonder: Mission to Mars

Entries close 31 Mar 2021


Lift off 2021 with this fascinating and creative STEM reading challenge run in partnership with Turner & Townsend. Engage students by testing their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and maths with a fun quiz and then task them with designing a survival home on planet Mars.

The challenge requires scientific and imaginative thought and can be enjoyed by students aged 7 to 14 (KS2 and KS3).

Find out more by watching our mission launch video.

Read. Research. Survive!

Ready to join the challenge?

  • First, download the teacher guidelines that detail the challenge in full and explain how you might use the range of resources provided.
  • With your class watch or share the welcoming video from our partners, Turner & Townsend, which explains the challenge and introduces ideas and questions for students to consider.
  • Run the quiz to test what your students already know. There are separate quizzes for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 - plus a bonus round to earn extra points!
  • Task your students with researching the possibilities of colonising a new planet, and encourage them to explore and read available books to learn about STEM and the challenges of living in a new environment.
  • Provide students with the hab template sheet and ask them to design their habitat on Mars. While the finished design should include some scientific detail there is lots of scope to be imaginative here, so have fun!
  • From all the habitat designs created by your class, select the two best designs and send them to us to be judged by the Turner and Townsend experts.

Mars landing update!

Enjoying this challenge? Support students' learning by sharing news from NASA's Mars Exploration Program including videos covering the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars on 18 February 2021.

Remote learning

Where students are not in school you are welcome to adapt the challenge to fit your needs, inviting them to watch the video, and sharing the resources with them. You may wish to ask them to complete the quiz and hab design as part of their home learning. Choose the two best designs and send them to us for judging. The deadline for entries isn't until 31 March, allowing time for you to work out how this might integrate with your teaching and learning plans for the spring term.

Book Support


We've provided a recommended reading list to help you select useful sources for this challenge. Your school library may well have some, if not all, of these titles and your school librarian or library coordinator may also be able to suggest other books they have available to support the challenge. Of course, research can also be undertaken by students at home, using whatever sources they are able access.

In addition to this with funding from Turner & Townsend, we were able to offer up to 70 schools the chance to receive a set of six STEM-themed books for free.

Registration for the free books closes on 8 January, and we will be in touch very soon with those schools due to receive books.

How to enter

Once you have all your completed class designs, please select two that you feel have met the specifications for the challenge most successfully.

Take a photo or make a scan of the entries and send them to along with a copy of the entry form detailing your school and contact details.

The closing date for entries is 31 March.


Please can you take ten minutes to complete our survey about this reading challenge? It will really help us hear your feedback and shape our challenges in the future. Thank you!

Winner selection and prizes

Turner & Townsend, supported by the National Literacy Trust, will judge the entries and decide on a winner and runner up from each age group of 7-11 (Key Stage 2) and 11-14 (Key Stage 3). These winners and runners up will win a wonderful set of books for their school.

You'll need to be logged in to your National Literacy Trust membership account or to sign up for free membership to download resources.

If you'd like to be kept updated about the competition and reminded when the closing date draws near, please register below.

If you have any questions, please contact us at


National Literacy Trust Reading Champions is supported by ALCS.

Find out more about the National Reading Champions Quiz and Challenges.

Explore useful teaching resources developed by ALCS to support understanding and communication about copyright with guides for children, young people and teachers.

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