Students make plans for baseball on Mars

Wilson_90.jpgBy Julie Wilson

The year is 2040. Earthlings have colonized Mars and are building homes, schools, hospitals and entire communities on the red planet. What will they do for entertainment? Could baseball become an interplanetary pastime? If we played baseball on Mars, how would the game be different?

These were the questions posed to 26 local students who joined NASA scientists, the Hall of Fame’s Education staff, and Cornell Professor James Bell to create a baseball league on Mars. The students, all 4th-7th graders at Cooperstown-area schools, spent the morning learning about the science of Mars and the science of baseball. They were then challenged to create new rules, new equipment and new stadium designs based on the information they learned. In the end four new Martian teams emerged: the Martians, the Thunders, the Comets and the Red Rock Rovers.

11-9-09-Wilson_Mars.jpgEach team felt that the conventional baseball stadium would need to be bigger – given that Mars has only one-third the gravity of Earth and the ball would therefore travel much farther. One team estimated that the outfield fence would need to be at least 1,200 feet from home plate in order to insure that every hit was not a home run. The majority of the new uniforms included long sleeves to protect the players from radiation and to keep players warm (as Mars is significantly cooler than Earth). The stadium designs varied, but all included a large dome of sorts as two hours was just not enough time to handle all of the obstacles presented by having an open air stadium on Mars.

Although we are a long way away from colonizing Mars, human space travel to the red planet will likely occur within the lifetimes of the young scientists who participated in this program. The Imagine Mars project, sponsored by NASA and the National Endowment for the Arts, seeks to inspire interest in the space program by building knowledge of Mars, creating an understanding of community, and building hopes for the future.

Imagine Mars has worked with schools, museums and other organizations throughout the country to build this futuristic community.

For more information on the Baseball’s Hall of Fame’s Education Program, please call 607-547-0362.

Julie Wilson is the manager of school programs for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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