Start of main content
Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • Computing
  • Science
  • Maths
  • D & T

Learning to live on Mars with the BBC micro:bit

Designing and programming a device that can help an astronaut living on the surface of Mars

This activity guides learners through designing and programming a device that can help an astronaut survive the harsh conditions of the Red Planet. It provides a valuable insight into how programmable devices can help us understand our solar system and how programming can embed intelligence into products and systems. Students will delve into the world of space exploration, understanding the need for technological advancements in our quest to conquer the cosmos.

This is one of a set of resources developed to aid the teaching of the primary national curriculum, particularly KS2. This is part of our series of resources designed to support the use of the BBC micro:bit in primary school design & technology (DT), computing and engineering lessons.

Activity: Designing and programming a device that can help an astronaut living on the surface of Mars

This activity sees learners creating a programmable device using the BBC micro:bit to measure and log information during a mission on Mars. They will analyse a design brief and criteria before embarking on their mission—either designing and producing the programming themselves or using a pre-written program that they can download straight onto their device.

The engineering context

Students will learn how programming skills are crucial for engineers to create intelligent electronic systems used in everyday devices. The activity also introduces them to the challenges of space exploration, sparking their imagination about how engineers might solve problems related to adapting to different atmospheres, gravity levels, and food cultivation on other planets. Additionally, the activity delves into the importance of understanding radio signals for wireless communication, a fundamental aspect of the communications industry.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity, learners will have gained the ability to design a programmable device capable of taking and logging temperature and light level readings. They will also develop the skills needed to complete a mission challenge on Mars and find their way back to base camp.

Examples of the BBC micro:bit programs

Use the links below to open the program directly in the microbit code editor or download the programs below to open in your existing editor.

Stater program

Basecamp program

Suit program

These programs can be downloaded as .hex files below via the 'Download all' button. 

Download our activity sheet and other teaching resources

The activity sheet includes teachers’ notes, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

Download our classroom lesson plan and PowerPoint presentation below.

Please do share your highlights with us @IETeducation. 

Related resources