Art Center for Kids Students Imagine Life on Mars

Art Center for Kids students get up close and personal with a Mars Rover model.

This August, NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity will land on the surface of the Red Planet. Armed with a geology lab, cameras galore and a rock-vaporizing laser, Curiosity’s mission will be to find conditions favorable for life.

This Spring, all students enrolled in Art Center for Kids—Art Center College of Design’s program for students in grades 4–8—will have a special opportunity to work with Curiosity engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to imagine what a future community on Mars might look like.

It’s all part of the Imagine Mars Project, an interdisciplinary program sponsored by NASA and the National Endowment for the Arts—and of which Art Center is a proud partner— that takes kids on a virtual mission to Mars and brings them back with a new outlook on community, science and the arts.

Art Center for Kids students in "Architecture from the Inside Out" design buildings suitable for the environment on Mars.

Every Spring term for the past six years, all Art Center for Kids classes focus on one common theme: imagining a future life on Mars. In these classes, young artists and designers, in cooperation with scientists and engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, translate this theme through a variety of disciplines.

“Here on Earth we take certain things for granted, like gravity,” says David J. Delgado, Art Center alumnus and Lead on the Imagine Mars Project for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who says the main skill Imagine Mars students develop is creative problem solving, “We ask the students to dig into their imagination and come up with things that have never been seen before.”

Delgado says the wide array of disciplines taught at Art Center for Kids means those ‘things that never seen before’ take on infinite variations—whether they’re group projects built in Architecture from the Inside Out (“How do you design buildings to fit into the environment on Mars?”), constructing narratives in Cartooning Technique (“What kind of people will live there? What will they do?”) imagining how pets would survive on Mars in Animal Sculpture (“The students have come up with some really fun spacesuits for their animals.”) or capturing images of life on Earth in Photography to remind residents on Mars of their roots.

Delgado also points out that the lessons learned in class go far beyond simply learning about Mars, “The instructors at Art Center for Kids use Imagine Mars as a jumping-off point to get really creative. Not only are the students learning about Mars, but they’re also learning skills for their specific medium, say photography. And they’re not just learning how to take a photograph, but they’re also learning about how tell stories through pictures. All the classes do a really good of that.”

Art Center for Kids Spring classes begin February 19; register today!

David J. Delgado, lead of the Imagine Mars Project at The Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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