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The RAS Mars Newspaper Competition for Schools, 2003


155 entries were received from 64 schools. In the various age ranges the numbers of entries / numbers of schools were:
     7-11, 23/9; 11-14, 118/45; 14-16, 13/9; 16-18, 1/1.
The competition was organized and assessed by the RAS Education Committee

The winners are:

  • 7–11 Years: First: Penybont Primary School, Bridgend, Penybont: Primary Times (Year 4/5, Mrs Davies) Joint Second: Horndean JS, Waterlooville: The Daily Enterprise (Class 6LP)
         Horndean JS, Waterlooville: Shooting Star (Class 6CA)
  • 11–14 Years: Joint First: Prior Park College, Bath: The Everest Has Landed (Form 4 Set 3)
         South Hampstead High School, London: Orion Times (Year 8)
         The International School Bangalore, India: Mission Possible (Class 8B) Joint Second: The Royal Belfast Academical Institution: Belfast Bulletin (Form 2T1)
         Chatham Grammar School for Girls: The Star (Class 7G)
         St Joseph's RC Middle School, Hexham: The New Planet
  • 14–16 Years: Joint First: Challney High School for Boys, Luton: Challney Gazette
         Madras College, St Andrews: Seeing Red (Sarah Dunn) Joint Second: Easthampstead Park School, Bracknell: The Daily Reporter (Lilian Squires)
         Coombe Girls' School, New Malden: The Red Moon (Louise Champion & Deniz Ugur)
         The Grange School, Bristol: The Phoenix (Charlotte Sobey)
  • 16–18 Years: First: Sir Roger Manwood's Grammar School, Sandwich: Astronomy News (Becky Morris)


The Original Competition:



Imagine the year is 2040 and you, and the rest of the world, are watching TV images of the first humans walking on the surface of Mars.

We invite school pupils to create a newspaper or a feature article to mark this very special day.

The Newspaper Competition is open to pupils in the age ranges 7-11 and 11-14 years.

The Feature Article Competition is open to pupils in the age ranges 14-16 and 16-19 years.

Groups or committed individuals may enter, but based on past experience, we strongly recommend that the Newspaper Competition be undertaken by groups of pupils. We cannot accept more than two Newspaper entries per class.

For teachers, our highly successful interdisciplinary competition has been running for six years. It is an excellent opportunity to forge cross-curricular links and to use the Internet and your library to search for material.

A winning Newspaper entry is likely to contain:

  • A good, relevant, witty headline and lead story.
  • Reports on
    • the astronauts' first impressions of the strange Martian environment.
    • how the astronauts reached Mars and how they expect to return home.
    • the hazards that the astronauts face in space and on the surface of Mars.
    • how the astronauts will survive for up to a Martian year without re-supply from Earth.
    • what experiments will be carried out on the surface of Mars.
    • the prospects of finding fossil remains of life on the surface.
    • the prospects of finding life currently existing deep in the crust of Mars.
    • the prospects of finding frozen water and minerals for future colonists to use.
  • An illustration showing the surface detail of Mars.
  • A cartoon about the event.
  • An original poem about the event.
  • One or two advertisements related to Mars exploration.
  • The reactions of people in the street.
  • The possible future impact on society.
  • One or two other events that occurred on the day of the landing.
A winning Feature Article entry is likely to include many of the points mentioned above. The article must be not more than 2000 words long, must contain diagrams and/or images, and should be in the style of magazines such as Astronomy Now or New Scientist.

Key points to remember for the Newspaper:

  • Lay out your material in the style of a modern newspaper.
  • Cover 4 sides of A4 if desktop published or four sides of A3 if largely hand-written.
  • Put the names of the contributors by each article.

Key points to remember for the Feature Article:

  • Lay out in the style of magazines such as Astronomy Now or New Scientist.
  • Write no more than 2000 words.
  • Acknowledge any sources that you used to create your article.

Enclose a suitable stamped addressed envelope if you want your work returned.

On the front page of your entry you must include:

  • Name, Address, Postcode of your School.
  • Email Address and Telephone Number of your School.
  • Name of your class or group if appropriate.
  • Age Range (7-11, 11-14, 14-16 or 16-19 years).
  • Full name of your teacher (e.g. Ms Jane Smith; Mr John Jones).
  • A signed declaration by your teacher that:
    • the selection of existing material was done by the group or individual and
    • all original material, design and layout was the work of the group or individual.

There will be certificates and a range of prizes for the winners in each age group. There is no entry form. The decision of the judges is final and results will be announced on the RAS web site at the end of September. Winners will be informed by post. The competition is organised by the Education Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society. Send your entry to arrive by 2003 September 1 to:

Mars Competition, Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BQ.