Grade 11 Energy on Mars | BCHydro Power Smart for Schools

Do we have the power to live on Mars?

Students use their understanding of energy production on Earth to decide which form of energy would be the most viable for generating electricity on Mars.

Activity Image
40 mins
Group work


By making decisions about the viability of energy production technologies on Mars, students deepen their understanding of energy-related technologies used on Earth and practice their abilities to make scientific evidence-based decisions.


What you'll need

  • "Do we have the power to live on Mars?" worksheet, one for each student
  • "Assessing energy technologies" worksheet, one for each group
  • "Comparing energy technologies" handout, one for each group
  • "How does Mars compare to Earth?" handout, one for each group

1. Organize your students into small groups (2-4 students) and provide each student with a copy of the "Do we have the power to live on Mars?" worksheet. Ask groups to suggest which form of energy used on Earth would be the best for providing electricity for a human settlement on Mars. 

2. Invite groups to share their decisions and thinking with the class. As groups share, use their ideas to co-develop or present the criteria for viability. Criteria for a viable technology would include:

  • Usability: To what degree could the technology be used and survive the conditions on Mars? 
  • Effectiveness: To what degree could the technology efficiently and reliably generate the same amount of electricity as it does on Earth?

Be sure students understand the criteria before proceeding to the next step in the activity. 

3. Provide each group with a copy of the "Assessing energy technologies" worksheet and the "Comparing energy technologies" and "How does Mars compare to Earth?" handouts. Assign each group one form energy production technology (solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity, geothermal power, nuclear power, and fossil fuel power). 

4. Ask each group to assess the viability of their assigned form of energy, reminding them to note their ratings and scientific evidence on the worksheet. 

5. Encourage groups to share their final rating of their assigned technology with the class.

6. Ask your students to compare their final assessments of each technology to their initial decisions. Encourage them to add to or revise their initial predictions and justifications. 

Modify or extend this activity

Ask students to determine if a community made up of a given number of people on Mars would consume more or less energy than a community of the same number of people on Earth.

Curriculum Fit

Science for Citizens 11

Big idea

  • Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally


  • Evidence-based decision making through science 
  • Impact of technologies
  • Beneficial scientific innovations

Curricular competencies

Questioning and predicting
  • Demonstrate a sustained intellectual curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal, local, or global interest
  • Formulate multiple hypothesis and predict multiple outcomes
Processing and analyzing data and information
  • Seek and analyze patterns, trends, and connections in data, including describing relationships between variables, performing calculations, and identifying inconsistencies
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence
  • Analyze cause-and-effect relationships 
  • Consider social, ethical, and environmental implications of the findings from their own and others’ investigations 
  • Assess risks in the context of personal safety and social responsibility 
Applying and innovating
  • Contribute to care for self, others, community, and world through individual or collaborative approaches
  • Contribute to finding solutions to problems at a local and/or global level through inquiry
  • Implement multiple strategies to solve problems in real-life, applied, and conceptual situations
  • Consider the role of scientists in innovation
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information, and perhaps a suggested course of action, for a specific purpose and audience, constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions, and representations

Teaching Notes

Energy in B.C.

This activity gets students thinking about how natural resources and geography play a part in how energy is generated in a specific region.

In British Columbia, the abundance of mountains, hills, lakes, rivers and streams make it an ideal province for hydroelectricity. 98% of the electricity in B.C. is clean energy generated by hydroelectric dams. 


Throughout the activity consider how well students: 

  • Apply their understanding of the mechanisms, requirements, advantages and disadvantages of various sources of energy to consider the viability of scientific innovations.
  • Apply their understanding of how the conditions on another planet would impact the effectiveness of various technologies
  • Make decisions using criteria and justify their decisions by using evidence 


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