Space Foundation News

Ceremony Celebrates Mars Yard Opening

Written by: developer

Ceremony Celebrates Mars Yard OpeningCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May. 18, 2011) — The Space Foundation launched its new Mars Yard today in a ceremony presented cooperatively with Colorado Springs School District 11 (D-11) and the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

The new education lab is the latest addition to the Space Foundation Discovery Institute, which serves as the base location for the Space Foundation’s education programs and also houses classrooms, a conference center, an Educator Resource Center and the AGI Space Missions Simulator. The Mars Yard, along with Space Foundation education programs, are all a critical part of the Space Foundation’s mission to build a better, stronger workforce for the future to support space exploration and utilization. The Space Foundation Discovery Institute, which opened in 2009 at 105 Coleridge Ave. in Colorado Springs, provides space-themed professional development and support for teachers and students from around the world.

The event started with opening remarks by: Chuck Zimkas, Space Foundation COO; Dr. Nicholas Gledich, superintendent of Colorado Springs School District 11; and EDC president and CEO Mike Kazmierski. Then students from the adjacent Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy showed what the robots could do.

Work began on the Mars Yard in 2010 with the donation of the “Honeywell Mars Robotic Experience,” providing robots for the simulated Martian terrain mission laboratory. The Mars Yard was also made possible through donated time and equipment from:

  • Mike DeGrant of Lowell Development Partners
  • Robert Elliott of Robertson’s Landscaping
  • Bill Johansen of C & C Sand and Stone Co.
  • Bud Bandfield of BudCo Electric
  • Colorado Lighthouse
  • B & B Countertops

Students at Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy were the first to use the lab this spring; the entire sixth grade participated in sessions while the Mars Yard was being completed. This aerospace-themed middle school was created in 2009 through a partnership between the Space Foundation and D-11. Its curriculum, which is collaboratively developed by the Space Foundation and D-11, uses space and aerospace themes and principles to teach a broad range of subjects, with focus on improving students’ proficiency in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM).

Next school year the Mars Yard will be available exclusively to D-11 students as part of the partnerships with the Space Foundation. After that, the Mars Yard will be open to other school districts along the Colorado Front Range.

Teachers enrolled in the Space Foundation Space Across the Curriculum course “Space Technologies in the Classroom” will be the first group of educators to use the Mars Yard. The course is one of five offered at the Space Foundation Discovery Institute this summer to help teachers learn how to use space themes and concepts to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics proficiency. The courses are open to Pre-K – 12 teachers.

More information about Space Foundation education programs is available at:

Pictured: Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy Student Radaysia Miles demonstrates robotics in the new Space Foundation Discovery Institute Mars Yard.