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Students Offer Proposal for Mars Discovery Center

Earlier this month, several Mars Area School District students, representing Mars Robotics Association, participated in a presentation on proposed plans for a Mars Discovery Center to be located in Downtown Mars.

Sophomore Lindsey Gourash; freshmen Emmett Bishop, Connor Boltey, Rohan Cherlakola, Mitchell Kulfan, Miles Stoops, Evan Szafranski and Issac Thoman; and seventh-grader Jacob Noe joined with other members of Mars Robotics Association to share their vision for a Mars Discover Center and its potential to foster community growth.

The students each took a turn at the podium to present their ideas for the space-themed, community center. The facility would offer classroom spaces; a Family Room with STEM-related books, toys and technology; a Creativity Lounge; outdoor spaces and exhibits; and a Martian Visitor Center to house interactive displays and information about the town and the planet.

The center would also include a Machine Shop with advanced tools such as plasma cutters, wood burners and large scale 3-D printers; an Assembly Area & Workspace for meetings and educational activities; a Robotics Arena for competitions and community events; a Film Studio for the creation of virtual lessons and projects; and a Robotics Practice & Storage area.

The presentation was offered for representatives of Aspire, Butler County Tourism, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Mars Area Public Library, Mars Bank, Mars Borough Council, Mars New Year, NASA, PPG Industries, Rich-Mar Rotary, and State Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson. To view the presentation, visit  


Also of note, Mars Robotics Association students are reaching out to professionals in a variety of STEAM-related fields to join in a Virtual Speaker Series, available online at

Each presentation includes a live question and answer session led by the students and offers an opportunity for viewers to submit questions, says Jeff Beckstead, Mars Robotics Association president. The Speaker Series will next welcome Phu Nguyen, a Walt Disney World staff engineer and former NASA mechanical engineer and Department of Defense aerospace engineer, at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25.

In the program’s inaugural presentation, students spoke with Ken Neiss, Research Portfolio Manager for the International Space Station Research Integration Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. For more information visit