Who wants to colonize Mars?


May 24, 2019

Twenty five teams, including entrants from the USA, UK, Japan, Poland, France, Switzerland Sweden, Finland, and Israel have been selected out of a field of 100 competitors as semi-finalists in the Mars Society’s Mars Colony Prize design contest.

The Mars Colony Prize design contest challenged people from all walks of life anywhere in the world to design a 1000 person Mars Colony, with design criteria including technical merit (40 points), economic viability (30 points) and social, political, and aesthetic  considerations (10 points each). The semi-finalists were chosen on the basis of their 20 page design studies as the top 4 to 6 out of five groups of twenty, each evaluated by two judges. Now all 25 will be evaluated by all 10 judges to narrow the field down to 8 to 10 finalists who will be invited to present their concepts in person before the judges at the Mars Society Convention at the University of Southern California, October 17-20. The winners will then be announced at the conference banquet on the evening of Saturday October 19, with the first prize winner receiving $10,000, the second $5000 and the third $2500.

All the Semi-Finalists will be invited to have their design papers included in a book, “Mars Colonies: Plans for Settling the Red Planet,” to be published by the Mars Society.

A list of the Semifinalists is below (in alphabetical order by Team/Individual Name):

Country  Team or Individual Name (For Teams Only) Names of all Team Members
USA Alex Dworzanczyk
Finland Brotherhood of Romulus and Remus Tuomas Lehtinen, Kartik Naik, Samuel Ocaña Losada amd Florian Reiner
USA Chris Wolfe
USA CrowdSpace Oleg Demidov, Ray Mercedes, Alexander Morozov, Vitalii Pashkin, Michael Denisov, Nata Volkova, Annet Nosova, Kristina Karacharskova, Tatiana Schaga
USA Emerging Futures LLC Jeffery Greenblatt, Akhil Rao
United Kingdom Endeavour Silviu-Vlad Pirvu, Mateusz Portka, Eduard-Ernest Pastor, Sławomir Tyczyński, Ibok Kegbokokim, Roxana Lupu
Japan Hiroyuki Miyajima Reiji Moroshima, Tomofumi Hirosaki, Shunsuke Miyazaki, Mayumi Arai, and Takuma Ishibashi
Poland Ideacity Justyna Pelc, Beata Suścicka, Magdalena Kubajewska, Piotr Torchała, Andrzej Reinke
USA James D. Little
USA Jason Preston
USA Kent Nebergall
Switzerland LET IT BE Pierre BRISSON / Richard Heidmann / Tatiana VOLKOVA
Israel MarsKibu Maayan Aharoni, Nitzan Anav, Neal Fischer, Eldar Gantz, Noa Guy, Yuval Porat, Liran Renert, Hilel Rubinstein, Eran Schenker, Hila Sharabi, Alon Shikar, Mikhail Raizanski, Doron Landau, Reut Sorek-Abramovich, Moti Cohen, David Warmflash, Helen Wexler, Moshe Zagai
USA MIT Star City George Lordos, Andreas Lordos
USA Nergal Mars Settlement Audrey Douglas, Cassandra Plevyak
USA Pesca Vincenzo Donofrio, Meghan Kirk
USA Stefanie Schur
USA Steve Theno, PE
USA Team Bold Wise, Saffel, Fagin, Livermore, Davis
USA Team Bubolaq Stellie Ford, Tessa Young, Julianna Ricco
Sweden Team Dvaraka Bhardwaj Shastri, Arvind Mukundan, Alice Phen, Akash Patel, Heeral Bhatt
FRANCE Team ENSC Caroline Cavel, Laetitia Calice, Adrien Leduque, Mateo Mahaut, Jean-Marc Salotti
USA Team Spaceship Robert Mahoney, Alex Bryant, Matthew Hayward, Tim Mew, Thomas Green, Josh Simmich
USA Wesley Stine
Poland Wroclaw University of Science and Technology Amanda Solaniuk,  Anna Wojcik,  Joanna Kuzma,  Natalia Cwilichowska,  Katarzyna Lis,  Slawek Malkowski,  Dariusz Szczotkowski,  Szymon Loj,  Orest Savystskyi,  Dominik Liskiewicz,  Wojciech Fikus,  Jakub Nalewaj,  Ania Jurga,  Leszek Orzechowski, Bartosz Drozd,  Paweł Gorniak,  Krzysztof Ratajczak, Paweł Piszko,  Maciej Piorun,


Commenting on the results, Mars Society president Dr. Robert Zubrin said: “I’m enormously impressed by the quality of the design studies submitted. The teams investigated all aspects of Mars colonization, and many found unique new approaches in all sorts of areas. There were so many great proposals that it was painful to be forced to narrow the field. It was terrific to see how the challenge of starting a new branch of human civilization and beginning our future history as a spacefaring species has inspired and mobilized the talent, hopes, and dreams of all kinds of people from all over the world. It really shows how Mars can bring humanity together.”


What are Tiger Teams?

Tiger team

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A Tiger team is a term used for a team of specialists formed to work on specific goals.[1]

A 1964 paper entitled Program Management in Design and Development used the term tiger teams and defined it as “a team of undomesticated and uninhibited technical specialists, selected for their experience, energy, and imagination, and assigned to track down relentlessly every possible source of failure in a spacecraft subsystem”.[2] The paper consists of anecdotes and answers to questions from a panel on improving issues in program management concerning testing and quality assurance in aerospace vehicle development and production.[3] One of the authors was Walter C. Williams, an engineer at the Manned Spacecraft Center and part of the Edwards Air Force Base National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Williams suggests that tiger teams are an effective and useful method for advancing the reliability of systems and subsystems in the context of actual flight environments.

  • A tiger team was crucial to the Apollo 13 lunar landing mission in 1970. During the mission, part of the Apollo 13 Service Module malfunctioned and exploded.[4] A team of specialists was formed to fix the issue and bring the astronauts back to earth safely, led by NASA Flight and Mission Operations Director Gene Kranz.[5] Kranz and the members of his “White Team”, later designated the “Tiger Team”, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their efforts in the Apollo 13 mission.
  • In security work, a tiger team is a group that tests an organization’s ability to protect its assets by attempting to defeat its physical or information security. In this context, the tiger team is often a permanent team as security is typically an ongoing priority.[6] For example, one implementation of an information security tiger team approach divides the team into two co-operating groups: one for vulnerability research, which finds and researches the technical aspects of a vulnerability, and one for vulnerability management, which manages communication and feedback between the team and the organization, as well as ensuring each discovered vulnerability is tracked throughout its life-cycle and ultimately resolved.[6]
  • An initiative involving tiger teams was implemented by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) under then-Secretary James D. Watkins. From 1989 through 1992 the DOE formed tiger teams to assess 35 DOE facilities for compliance with environment, safety, and health requirements. Beginning in October 1991 smaller tiger teams were formed to perform more detailed follow up assessments to focus on the most pressing issues.[7]
  • The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) puts together “tiger teams” of engineers and scientists from multiple NASA centers to assist solving complex problems when requested by a project or program.[8]
  • Ryan Redd – A pioneer in leading teams and solving problems.

Bob Barboza, founder/director of the Barboza Space Center is training high school “Tiger Teams” at the Barboza Space Center in Long Beach, California. Students receive fellowships to work on a series of simulated Mars related projects.The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure project uses student “Tiger Teams” to solve problems with Mars colonization project-based learning integrating the Next Generation Science Standards.

  1. ^ Miller, Marilyn; Armon, Rick (June 6, 2016). “University of Akron announces new “Tiger Team” to address enrollment slide, finances, leadership issues”. Akron Beacon Journal. Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  2. ^ J. R. Dempsey, W. A. Davis, A. S. Crossfield, and Walter C. Williams, “Program Management in Design and Development,” in Third Annual Aerospace Reliability and Maintainability Conference, Society of Automotive Engineers, 1964, p. 7–8
  3. ^ “Login – SAE Mobilus”. saemobilus.sae.org.
  4. ^ “Apollo 13 Accident”. nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  5. ^ “Gene Kranz A Blast from The Past” (PDF). Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  6. ^ Jump up to: a b Laakso, Marko; Takanen, Ari; Röning, Juha (1999). “The vulnerability process: a tiger team approach to resolving vulnerability cases”. Proc. 11th FIRST Conf. Computer Security Incident Handling and Response. Brisbane, Australia: CiteSeerX: 1–2, 6. Retrieved 28 September 2016.


24 th Annual Sicence & Engineering Fair Cabrillo High School, Long Beach, California

Congratulations to Eric D. Brundin, Science Curriculum, and the entire Long Beach Unified School District Science Fair planning team.  We hope you enjoy this this visual journey to the Long Beach Unified School District.  We are going to share this with our partners around the world.







Women Wasp pilots.jpg




A Special Happy Birthday to Evelyn Snith (United States Air force).  She is reired Air Force captain and a fantastic educator retired from the Paramount Unified School District. .  We took a Nao humanoid robot to her home to help to celebrate her 95 th. birtday.


















Creative Schools for Mars Projects: Barboza Space Center is Seraching

Meet the school with no classes, no classrooms and no curriculum

“We get around 70 requests a week from all over the world from people wanting to come and see what we do here” says Rob Houben, manager of the Agora school in Roermond, Netherlands, and the closest thing school has to a principal or headteacher. “And I turn most of them down, I just don’t have the time to do all that!”

It’s clear such interest is a testament to Agora’s unconventional approach, which is why I’m glad to be here. I first met Rob at Bett 2019, when he wandered onto pi-top’s stand, and we quickly struck up a rapport. If pi-top designed a school, it would be this. It’s amazing not because it’s awash with cash and has state of the art facilities, but because their entire approach is centred around projects. This is a school focused on learning, not teaching.

“We give children the opportunity to play, because when children are playing with something they get interested. And then you don’t have to teach, and you don’t have to police them either” says Rob.

No year groups

Students at Agora range from 12 to 18 (though there are no year groups) and each of them is given control over their own educational journey. They are able to explore and learn about topics and things which interest them.

I met students exploring subjects as diverse as German mountain guides, Mongolian horses, blacksmithing, Harry Potter patronuses, tables and skateboards. It is the job of the teacher – who here is called a coach – to challenge and guide that exploration process.

The staff, who are responsible for around 17 students each, also have to ensure there are tangible results and genuine development, as well as work with each student on ways to continue developing the learning journey. Though brilliant for kids you can see why one of the biggest issues facing Rob has been finding the right sort of teacher, at ease with a ‘guide on the side’ approach rather than barking at a class of 30 kids.

Rob describes Agora as a blend of a university (where you have knowledge), a Buddhist monastery (where you can think), a theme park (where you can play) and a communal marketplace (where you can trade and swap things). And it’s this last one, Agora, and borrowed from Ancient Greek, that gives the school its name. Each day starts with dagstart, where students spend a few minutes outlining their challenges for the day, what they hope to achieve and what help they might need. It’s also a chance for other students to suggest things, offer advice or join in.

You could describe the space where this happens as full of happy clutter. There’s objects, books, posters, figures, half-finished projects, bits and bobs. In short, lots and lots of detritus for playing with.

Custom desks

Each student has a desk, which they are encouraged to customise. One has the front of a car attached to it, which was built with the help of a local scrapyard. “The first one they made didn’t fit in the lift!” Says Rob, meaning the students then learned how to calculate the volume of a cuboid (the lift) and adjust their design so as to get it in. Another displays some amazing ivy like tendrils CNC’d out of wood.

After dagstart, students move on to project time, which could be at their desks or in any of the facilities such as the wood workshop, metal workshop, textiles room, kitchen or computer room. There’s lunch, followed by quiet time, where students are encouraged to read or think. Then it’s more project or group work until the end of the day. As they get older, students can choose flexible start and end times, signing in and out to better suit their diaries and what they are doing.

In speaking to Agora students time and time again they said what they enjoy most about the school is the freedom to explore and learn whatever they want. “People look strange at us. They think because of their school experience you have to have things like four mathematics lesson a week, but in the Netherlands, that isn’t the case. The Government only asks you to bring students to a certain level within a certain time period” says Rob.

The magic in all this is in having coaches guide that apparent freedom so as to naturally include the things students need to know by law. So for example, all students must know Pythagoras’ theorem by a certain age, but that doesn’t have to happen in a mathematics lesson, it could be while exploring a geography problem, or building a table, that then leads the student to find out more.

Ubiquitous mobile phone use

Perhaps most shocking for UK secondary school teachers to hear is that at Agora, there is ubiquitous mobile phone and internet use. “All our children have Chromebooks for free, so they have access to the internet all day. We allow them to use their phones, all day, because you need to learn how not to use your phone in certain moments. And you don’t learn that when you put your phone in a locker or container because then you have to have a container your whole life”

Consequently, the school uses WhatsApp to manage messaging students. Parents are encouraged to get involved too, with tear strip flyers advertising their skills. So if you need carpentry advice, you contact the student whose parent knows about woodwork and approach them.

The school can afford free Chromebooks for each child because they don’t spend a lot on books. “Even when they are studying for an exam, it’s not like a normal school where we have to spend money on 50 maths books. If you want to study maths you have to tell me how you’re going to do that and which book or digital content you want to use. And if a student can do that and explain why they need that book we will buy it for them. But that doesn’t mean the person next to them gets one”.

Agora started in 2014 with 30 students as an experiment within another more traditional school, to see if the whole idea of what education is could be designed differently. Crucially, the students, not the teaching staff, were the only ones consulted on what the school should contain, look like and do. The board gave the founding staff members a long leash and let them get on with it. They did. There are now 250 students in the school, with a long waiting list of others wanted to join. “When we opened the government came within a month and said ‘we’re going to close the school’, by the end of the day they said ‘ok we’re not’.

How do you measure progress without tests?

So if students aren’t being tested in specific subjects, but rather working on a huge range of different projects, how are they tracking their progress? It’s a good question, and like the design and layout for the building itself, the answer came not from the faculty, but from the students.

Egodact is a piece of software designed by three Agora students, Rafael, Baruch and Ruben, to track not only a student’s challenges but also their progress. It’s light, simple and easy to use. Not only that, they have now set up a company to market and sell the software to other changemaker schools. They’ve written a business plan, designed a product road map, and opened a bank account. Pretty impressive for three 16 year olds who began this at 14.

Of course Agora is still recognisably a school. It has an auditorium space and a canteen, and it’s full of children who are messy and noisy like kids everywhere. But it also has meeting rooms the children can book via their phones to work on things or meet people.

And next to the home economics kitchens there’s a restaurant, with a bar and beer pump. Rob’s plan for the future is to have a restaurant business in here working with students and serving the local community. “Before you know it, the students will own the catering company” he tells me.

He’s clearly dreaming big, and so he should, the school is an amazing achievement, but it hasn’t always been easy. “It’s been a lot of hard work getting to this stage. We had to grow fast because we had a lot of demand, and schooling teachers not to teach is very hard!” And it’s going to get harder as Rob develops and expands both the school and teaching faculty.

Finding, training and supporting the right staff with this highly different approach to education takes time. “I tell my staff, ‘don’t ask me if this is a good idea. Do it for a week and ask the children if it’s a good idea. Because what I don’t do is manage people, they can do that themselves. Our teachers work five days, four days with kids, and on the fifth day I don’t allow them to work with kids, they have to observe other teachers and give them feedback. And if they do that enough I say ‘get out of the school’, go to a museum, go to a laboratory, go to a business and tell us what you found there. That’s what school is for, we have to get kids out there, because we think that the most knowledge is outside the school not inside.”

So where does all this lead? Well if you look at the skills employers constantly cry out for: empathy, communication, teamwork, agility, flexibility, and the ability to design and make solutions to multidisciplinary problems, a traditional education barely offers students any of that. Instead, there are lots of dates, facts and formulas to remember. The children at Agora are different, like us adults they have the world’s information in their pocket, but crucially, they have the wherewithal to make sense of it, synthesise and use it as and when they need it. And chief among their soft skills is a sense of confidence in their abilities to tackle problems and communicate with adults and each other.

That is what work will be in the future, the human things that machines can’t do. Agora and other changemaker schools are giving their students the best possible skills and experience to do that. “I’m not doing this for children in our school, I’m doing it for children everywhere. I want every child to do this. I hate having a waiting list, but to get the staff at the right level, that takes time” says Rob. “But everyone can learn this, anyone can do this.”

Forget what you know about teaching

If you’d like to hear more about Rob’s vision on what education and learning could be, he very kindly let me video him doing a presentation in his office.

870 claps


Getting Ready for your Mars Science Field Trip in Antarctica

We are exploring and testing the best clothing made on Earth.  We invite you to follow our action research.


Dry Q Clothing for Mars (How wil we solve this problem?

Hard Gear Products

he most advanced, and carefully crafted high-altitude climbing suit ever made. We worked with the world’s most accomplished alpinists to redesign this suit from the ground up, refining features from oxygen mask compatibility to a unique internal suspender system.

This product is certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) by Control Union.


  • Q Shield™ Down: welded, watertight baffle construction
  • 6-slider watertight rainbow rear-zip for easy on/off
  • Oxygen mask compatible collar
  • Low profile, insulated, fixed hood with one-handed drawcord for quick fit adjustments
  • Reinforced panels at elbows, knees, seat and hem
  • Style# 1459271


  • Fabric Body: Dry.Q™ 2L Ripstop (100% Nylon)
  • Insulation: Q.Shield™ DOWN 800-Fill
  • Insulation: RDS Certified Down


  • Center Back Length: 28 in / 71 cm
  • Weight: 3 lb. 15 oz. / 1.78 kg.

Men’s Sizes (Inches)

Chest Sleeve Waist Hip Inseam
S 36-38 33 30, 31 36-38
M 39-41 34 32, 33, 34 38-40 S: 30
L 42-45 35 36, 38 42, 44 R: 32
XL 46-49 36 40, 42 46, 48 L: 34
XXL 50-53 37 44 50
XXXL 54-57 38 46 52

Men’s Sizes (Centimeters)

Chest Sleeve Waist Hip Inseam
S 91-97 84 76, 79 91-97
M 99-104 86 81, 84, 86 97-102 S: 76
L 107-114 89 91, 97 107, 112 R: 81
XL 124-127 91 102, 107 117, 122 L: 86
XXL 127-135 94 112 127
XXXL 137-145 97 117 132

Please Note: All figures listed correspond to equivalent body measurements, not the dimensions of the garment.




Size & Fit

Shipping & Returns

Shipping Information

Shipping Method Rate Expected Delivery Time
Standard FREE 5-7 Business Days
Expedited $12.00 3-4 Business Days
Rush $19.00 2-3 Business Days

Return Policy

Returns are accepted within 60 days of the purchase date. We will gladly accept returns on all purchases made on our website which are in original condition; unworn with tags attached.


Non-expedited shipments to the following areas can take up to six weeks:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Guam
  • Puerto Rico
  • US Virgin Islands

Still Have Questions

The Occupy Mars Learning Advetnure:  Suprschool@aol.com