Sixth-grader Nichole Ploughe figured a water department would be key to building a utopian community on Mars, but her Rim Country Middle School teammates in the Mars Millennium project disagreed. They figured Mars colonists would want a casino.
Nichole was out-voted and her team created a gambling house for Red Rock Village, an ideal community that's being designed for NASA by students from around the country as part of the official White House Millennium Council youth Initiative.
"I wanted a water department because my dad works for the water department and I think it's important," Nichole said. "We'd need people to bring water in and keep it stored."
Nichole is among 30 Rim Country Middle School students who learned about Mars and the community they live in while working on the semester-long project.
After they finished their models, the students answered a series of questions about what they hoped their ideal community would be like to live in.
Ben Byrne, who helped his team build a model of a golf course surrounded by houses, said he thought the community should be fun and have lots of things to do.
Logan Hopkins and his team designed a model of a restaurant and houses.
"We put a well for water and oxygen for people," he wrote in his explanation of the project. He also said that he wanted people to be nice and kind and healthy.
To help Mars colonists achieve that goal, students built a variety of other models, including one of a jail, a superior court house and a hospital. They also built models of a town hall, a Safeway Store, a bicycle shop and a fire station. Another student, Lydia Alexander, built a model of a church.
"I think everybody should go to church and learn all that stuff," Lydia said. "If you don't know about it, you won't know how you were born or great stuff that happened a long time ago. You won't know what Christmas is about, or Easter. You'll just think it's about candy and stuff."
The idea behind the project, which is due July 1, was to encourage children to design a community that is scientifically sound. The assignment forced students to use their knowledge of science and art to develop the models and their communication skills to interview people about what they like and don't like about this community.
Nicole Mullaly summed up her assessment of the project by saying that the community of the future shouldn't have war or taxes.
Nicole's message, and the messages and ideas of her classmates, may go out to people around the country and beyond.
The projects will be displayed in public settings around the nation and the winning entries will be encoded on a microchip that will be placed aboard a future NASA spacecraft.