Dirty Truth 200

Can Earth be saved… or is Mars our only hope?

Life on Earth is precious and precarious. Every day, more species go extinct as our world becomes more polluted. People are fighting to make a difference—but is it enough? Or should we look to the skies to save our species?

In this project, students learn about the importance of environmental protection, and about the wonders of Mars. They choose whether to support environmental protection or space exploration, and create a commercial to raise money for their cause.

Imagine if students all around the country learned to appreciate the value of our soil, and began looking to the heavens and dreaming of the future—what a wonderful world that would be!

Project Plan and Resources

Learning Targets


Lesson 1: Students understand the importance of Earth’s resources.

Lesson 2: Students investigate the potential for life on Mars. 

Lesson 3: Students analyze their values to choose between preserving Earth or colonizing Mars.

Lesson 4: Students research soil and fertilizer in order to grow crops.

Lesson 5: Students script a persuasive commercial.

Lesson 6: Students work collaboratively to film a commercial. 

Lesson 7: Students analyze a scientific finding and apply it to their commercial.

Lesson 8: Students edit a commercial electronically.

Lesson 9: Students present compelling commercials to persuade an authentic audience.

For lesson descriptions, download the project overview.

For K–8 content connections, download the content correlations.

Online Resources

Interactive Games and Activities

  • Egg Challenge 
  • The Unfairness of it All Activity
  • Red and Blue Planet Art Project
  • Spoiled Soil? Experiment Data Analysis Sheet
  • Spoiled Soil? Experiment Plan
  • Spoiled Soil? Observation Sheet
  • Which Team is Right for You? Personality Quiz*

Websites and Videos

  • 5 Undeniable Reasons Humans Need to Colonize Mars Article
  • edf.og
  • Finding Living Martians Just Got a Bit More Believable Article
  • Life on Mars: Exploration and Evidence Article
  • Life on Mars: The Future of Human Adventure Article
  • Planting Radishes Article
  • seds.org
  • Skype a Scientist
  • Soil on Mars Article*
  • Video: 1980s Frosted Flakes Cereal Commercial
  • Video: Could We Actually Live on Mars?
  • Video: Dear Future Generations: Sorry
  • Video: Dirt Made My Lunch
  • Video: F.B.I. Song
  • Video: How to Make a Winogradsky Column
  • Video: LEGO Shake Up Imagination
  • Video: Lucky Charms Cereal Magically Delicious
  • Video: Meow Mix
  • Video: Nature is Speaking
  • Video: Oscar Mayer Wiener
  • Video: Pale Blue Dot
  • Video: Parisian Love
  • Video: Powers of Ten
  • Video: Resources — Welcome to the Neighborhood
  • Video: Save Our World
  • Video: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems
  • Video: The Worst Song in the World
  • Video: Timelapse of the Future
  • Video: Today We Play – The Great Speech
  • Video: Video editing tutorial for beginners
  • Video: Web of Fries Part I
  • Video: Web of Fries Part II
  • Video: Why Should We Go To Mars?

Additional Resources

  • Book List
  • Home Letter
  • How to Create a Convincing Commercial
  • Kid-Safe Search Sites
  • Mars Introductory Slideshow*
  • Mission Funding Event Invitation
  • Pledge Sheet
  • Press Release
  • Reflection Journal
  • Student Self-Assessment Rubric
  • Teacher Assessment Rubric
  • Virtual Student Edition

All lessons include:

About the Author

Elena Jinzo

5th Grade Teacher
Skyline Elementary
San Francisco, CA

Each Blue Apple Project Includes:

Elena Jinzo

5th Grade Teacher
Skyline Elementary
San Francisco, CA

Hello! My name is Elena Jinzo. For over twenty-five years, I have worked to empower my students and open doors for them. Ingrid B. Lacy, my early mentor teacher, provided both emotional support and thought-provoking inquiries, lighting my path ahead. I served as a middle school teacher and a BTSA teacher before discovering a passion for student-led, collaborative learning and educational technology at Skyline Elementary School. In my first year, I was honored—and humbled—to receive the Teacher-of-the-Year Award by the PTA. The next year, I was privileged to participate in a Genentech Futurelab project to help bring science instruction to life. Outside the classroom, my interests include travel, ancient sites, and museums. I also enjoy outdoor adventures and horticulture. My students’ Garden Club earned a Kent Award, an award highlighting innovation in San Mateo County schools. Whether in or out of the classroom, I believe that as a TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves Miracles!