Mission to Mars: competition for 5-14 year-olds

Explore what happens to our bodies in space!

Countries across the world are aiming to send the first humans to Mars in the near future. But how would they survive the journey and the alien conditions on Mars?

The Physiological Society is challenging young people to share their ideas on how a human could make this difficult trip and live on Mars. The winners will have the opportunity to meet a real astronaut and win prizes for their school.

This competition will run in the lead up to our exciting President’s Lecture, given by astronaut and physiologist, James Pawelczyk, at the Royal Institution on Saturday 7 September 2019. This will be a great event for families, where James will give a talk about space travel, followed by lots of fun space-themed activities to inspire children about science.

How to enter:

The competition is split into 3 age categories: 

5-7 years old:

All astronauts need a space suit - what would a space suit designed specifically for a Mars mission need to look like? We are inviting pupils aged 5 – 7* to draw (and label) a space suit that an astronaut might wear on a mission to Mars. Top tips: Think about what space might be like for different parts of the body. What could the space suit include to protect your body and help you move around?

8-11 years old:

It would be great if the first astronauts going to space knew what to expect! We are inviting pupils aged 8 –11* to write a 500 word story or cartoon (maximum 16 panels) that captures the experience of the first man or woman on Mars. Top tips: Do some research on how space travel might affect your body. Think about how you might feel getting off the space ship and seeing Mars for the first time. What will you need when you get there? What will you do during your time on Mars?

12-14 years old:

Over the years, humans have evolved to thrive on Earth; if humans had evolved on Mars, what might they look like? We are inviting pupils aged 12 –14* to draw and label the differences between humans as we have evolved on Earth and humans if they were to evolve on Mars. This must be supported by a written summary (maximum 200 words) explaining how the adaptations of the human on Mars might help them to survive better. Top tips: Do some research on what conditions on Mars are like and how they might affect different parts of the body, internally and externally. Consider the structure of the human body and how it works on Earth. How might things be different to meet the challenges of living on Mars?

*age on 31 August 2019

Terms and Conditions 


  • Entries should reach us by 11:59pm Friday 7 June 2019
  • Applications must be submitted using the online form below, with consent from a parent/guardian. 
  • Written entries must be typed and submitted in English. Please scan hand drawn images. 
  • Each entry must be produced and submitted by one pupil only.
  • The submission must be the sole work of the pupil.
  • The competition is open to UK and Republic of Ireland residents only.
  • The telephone number and email provided must allow the parent/guardian to be contacted between the date of submission and Saturday 7 September (inclusive). If an entrant is unable to be contacted after reasonable attempts have been made to do so, we may shortlist the next best entrant.
  • By submitting an entry for the competition, the entrant’s parent/guardian is deemed to have given consent for the entry to be published free of charge for all purposes as The Society wishes.
  • If entrants submit more than one entry, we will judge the first entry received and disregard the others. Late, incomplete or illegible entries will be disqualified.


  • Entries will be reviewed by a panel of physiologists and three shortlisted pupils from each category will be invited to the event in London on 7 September 2019, where the winners will be announced after James Pawelczyk’s talk.
  • In all categories, marks will be awarded for reasons given/rationale, understanding of how the body works, originality and clarity. 
  • The shortlisted pupils must be available to attend the event at the Royal Institution on 7 September 2019.


  • The finalists from each category will be invited to attend the event on 7 September to meet James Pawelczyk, the astronaut. There will be up to £300 to support the travel of the finalists and their parent/guardian(s). For each category, there will be a prize for the winning pupil, and for their school.

More information

For more information about the competition please email education@physoc.org or telephone 0207 2695710.

Entry form

Declarations from parent/guardian

All data will be stored securely by The Physiological Society for a period of 1 year and treated confidentially under the terms of the General Data Protection Regulations. Your data will only be used for the purposes of communication, evaluation and reports in relation to the Competition and President’s Lecture on 7 September 2019. You have the right to request that your data will not be used for any of these purposes and/or deleted at any time.

For further information, please see The Society's Fair Processing Notice at www.physoc.org/privacy.