Fifth-graders from all over New Mexico have come together to take a trip to Mars. Their journey may be simulated, but just like real astronauts they have had to prepare for their mission through hands-on math and science. For four months, they have learned about Mars in their classrooms. They studied the planet's atmosphere and determined how they would survive there; they designed life-support systems, planned meals, and figured out how to communicate with Earth.
Finally, these students -- a thousand of them -- come together at the city's convention center to embark on the mission together, building habitats and telling their stories through teamwork, songs, and skits. "This is the way we inspire students to become future scientists and engineers," says Ronda Cole, a director at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, which hosts the event. "Pick those career fields, because you're going to have fun for the rest of your life."