Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 16:45 UK

School pupils enjoy life on Mars

Calum, Lucy and Ashley
Calum, Lucy and Ashley are among those taking part

School pupils in Dundee, Perth and Fife are exploring life on Mars.

About 150 children are involved in Space School, where experts from NASA's Johnson Space Centre teach them about the planets and galaxies.

They will build a rocket, fashion a space suit and create a robotic rover for a mock mission to Mars over the coming days.

The aim is to encourage youngsters to consider a career in maths, science or engineering.

The week-long Space School is being held at Abertay University, Perth College and St Andrews University.

Frances Lavery, acting depute and St Peter and Paul's Primary in Dundee, said: "It's a fabulous experience for them and it awakens their interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.

"A seed has been planted and I think it's just a fantastic opportunity for them, particularly the girls.

"Anything's possible for these children, and meeting astronauts, meeting people who have been directly involved in space flights, and they're ordinary people who started off exactly like themselves - it's a fantastic inspiration for these children."

St Peter and Paul's pupil Ashley said: "I like space. When we're doing our school projects I like doing it and it's fun because I like the idea of being able to go from earth one day and be able to go to different planets.

Pupils with Jamie Semple
Experts from NASA are helping the children with their tasks

"The planets are probably the fun part because you learn about the stuff that's on the planets and the rocks and the gasses and everything."

Lucy, 11, from Ancrum Road Primary, added: "I like designing things, so I like designing rockets, the shape of them and things like that."

Calum, 11, from Blackness Primary, said that he would like to be a scientist, astronomer or astronaut when he grew up.

He added: "I just like looking at books and looking at the pages where people aren't sure if things are real or not."

Jamie Semple from the Space Centre in Houston said: "It gives them an experience to see something they don't see on a daily basis.

"It gets them in touch with people that work in an environment that's second to none as far as uniqueness and gives them the opportunity to do something a little bit different and out of the norm.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to see astronauts and talk with them."

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