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Global Mars Pilot Project

April 29 2017

Pilot project

"Global Mars" is an experience for students in traditionally under served places in the world to engage in a unique education that would encourage them to pursue science and break the cycle of poverty.

In the summer of 2017 the pilot project took the Global Mars team to Matara, Sri Lanka to diffuse knowledge to under served students in the community.

April 29 2017


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Debriefing Stage

Assessment of the efficacy of the pilot project is on-going.


Excellent. Excited to hear how it went.

It's good to hear from you David! thank you! You have been excited about this project since the day I made my first post on open explorer. Yes! we are super excited too.
Stay tuned to our passion based adventure! ;)

Mission Underway

Goodbye cake to Sophia <3 Thank you Chintha teacher for this wonderful cake!

It was pleasure working with Sophia. Even though Sophia is not a planetary scientist I decided to collaborate with her because she had a very specific and a very important skill set to make this project a success.

Sophia has experience as an ESL teacher, she is a good science communicator in addition to having a strong background in science, she has previous experience teaching in unserved places in the world (India). Most importantly she has prior experience in conducting statistically valid study research.


post for 08/08/2017
Day 04: Wrap up! #colombobound

I apologize as I waited till I get back to Colombo to post about the program in Matara. The reason for this is because we had limited internet while in Matara and also because had we too much going on with the program and there were times I was super overwhelmed. However, I managed to make quick posts on Instagram. This was best I could do to share the project in the given situation.

Even when I got back to Colombo I needed time to recover from working hard and travelling. So here I am finally posting about Global Mars :)

I am happy to say Global Mars pilot was a HUGE success! Kids as well as parents wanted us to come back!!! Big THANKS to everybody who supported this project.

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Post for 08/07/2017
Day 03: Solar system lesson, introduction to planetary science/geology and passion project

I was super excited to talk about the big bang and the formation of the solar system. Yesterday I showed my students meteorite samples from Argentina as well as few other rocks and minerals. Today I am happy to say that one of the students brought her rock collection to share with the class! It was very fulfilling to see kids sharing their curiosity and passion with others.

P.S kids also made Samaposha (snack) planets. But WHY snack planets??? This activity helped us explain the formation of the solar system to the kids ;)

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Post for 08/06/2017
Day 02: Fieldwork and biology lesson

So today I decided to do fieldwork for the morning session and Sophia decided to do the biology lesson for the after lunch session.

I started off the morning session by explaining their field handout and showing some rock samples from my personal rock collection. The kids saw meteorite samples from Argentina, lava rocks and Tektites. For the field session, kids examined soil samples they collected and completed their field activity.

Right before the biology session I was able to introduce kids to a different kind of technology. We looked at MARS!!!!!

Sophia's biology lesson was very hands on! Kids enjoyed doing their food web activity and fun biology games.

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Post for 08/05/2017
And the weekend begins! Day 01: Introduce students to the scientific method, research and encourage STEM with passion based learning.

As soon as we got to Matara we had to prep for the program and meet the kids. The kids were GREAT!!! They performed an experiment for the scientific method, we introduced them to their passion project and we even gave them an activity to engage in research.

When we got back from the program we did a grocery run, grabbed dinner and prepped for the next day. I am happy to say Day 01 was a success!!!!!!

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Preparation Stage

And the countdown begins! There is exactly 2 weeks more for the program. While I was busy running errands from Colombo, Sophia was busy gathering students for the program from Matara. So far, 26 students have shown interest and gotten permission from their parents. In order to narrow the participants Sophia asked each of them to write paragraphs about "Why I like to study science"

Below are the images of few responses we got so far. This was too cute not to share! We will be getting more responses next week and will be making decisions based on them.

Our curriculum/project was approved by a government school in Matra, Sri Lanka. While we want to give every student an opportunity to be a part of the Global Mars pilot, this program can only have a limited number of students. The reason for this is because we want give each and every student individual attention/mentor them and also because we only have limited resources for the pilot.

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Congratulations! That's awesome to hear about the interest in the program.

Thank you David! We are super excited :D

So this week was a little hectic. I had to run errands all week in order to prepare for the pilot. I am happy to say almost all of the running around work/busy work is done.

Also, I had people from around the world asking me about this project. This week I decided to do a short video on @Global_Mars. Below is the link to the video I posted on my Instagram @hirunisenarathdassanayake

If you have questions please comment here. We are excited to take you on our journey. @global_mars #slmars #marscreate #TeamPassionLearning

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Approved! :)

As we move forward with the pilot, I will be updating the open explorer page as well as my Instagram!

Hiruni's Instagram:

Stay tuned to our passion based adventure :)


Congratulations! How exciting!

Thank you so much :)

While the school in Matara recover from the flooding situation we worked on improving our curriculum from Colombo.

Today, I am happy to say that I met Dr. Asha de Vos! She indeed encouraged me to pursue this project and even gave me some great advice :)

Global Mars is super excited to move forward with the pilot, regardless of the recent challenges we faced.



Dr. Asha is the best. Glad she's supporting the project, and wishing you all the best in the recovery.

Thank you David :)

Post for May 29, 2017

We are almost done with the curriculum! As we are getting ready to approach the school in Matara, we came across very sad news. Flooding has hit badly to Matara!

"Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) Severe flooding brought on by monsoon rains across southwestern portions of Sri Lanka has resulted in the deaths of at least 169 people, according to the country's Ministry of Disaster Management." -CNN Read here:

As a result of this flooding situation, The school we are planing on working with was cancelled for a week :'(

Also, lets not forget Tsunami in 2004! Matara was badly effected by the Tsunami too. "Sri Lankan authorities increased its death toll on Wednesday to 23,015 with more than 4,000 people still reported missing. The flooding also injured more than 8,200 people. Across Sri Lanka, some 1.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes and more than 745,000 no longer have homes. In the coastal town of Matara, locals said some 30 to 40 Western tourists were surfing when the tsunami hit, and all are missing and presumed dead." -CNN Read here:

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Spreading passion based learning in the developing world is a challenge that we are working hard to overcome. Currently we are working on the pilot project curriculum.

We are engaged in applying "spark" based learning to diffuse STEM. During the three day program in July/August 2017, we will introduce the students to cutting edge research, do field work and encourage the scientific method. At the end of the program the students will present their passion based project to the classroom. We will be in touch with the learner after the program to track his or her progress from time to time.

Pilot Project Team:

Founder and Planetary Scientist: Hiruni Senarath Dassanayake;

Chemist and Biologist: Sophia Deady

Hiruni's bio: Hiruni Senarath Dassanayake is an early career planetary scientist and a recent graduate from SUNY Buffalo State. She researched and discovered a possible “crater lake” in Margaritifer Terra, Mars through the 2015 Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship Award at SUNY Buffalo State. Hiruni interned with National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC where she researched geomorphology of distal deposits related to the formation of Hale crater in Margaritifer Terra, Mars. Hiruni’s research follows the theme of water related geology and habitability in the solar system, focused on Mars. The other planets and moons she has studied so far include Earth and Europa. She is a Geological Society of America (GSA) On To the Future (OTF) scholar and the founder of Global Mars. When she is not occupied by scientific research she can be found working on education and outreach.

Sophia's bio: Sophia Deady is a current Fulbright Fellow in Sri Lanka (November 2016-August 2017) where she teaches six and seventh grade English in Matara. Before coming to Sri Lanka, she studied psychology, chemistry and poetry at Smith College in Massachusetts. She is passionate about teaching, women's health, and improving access to health knowledge and services for communities across the world. Her career goal is to work as an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and health educator in underserved areas.

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Do you know @ashadevos by any chance?

YES I do!!! I know you are good friends with her ;)

Expedition Background

Pilot project

"Global Mars" is an experience for students in traditionally under served places in the world to engage in a unique education that would encourage them to pursue science and help become scientists themselves. Below are the Global Mars pilot project goals,

1)Introduce/encourage interdisciplinary learning

2)Fill a knowledge gap

3)Introduce/encourage STEM

4)Introduce/encourage scientific research and exam preparation

5)Introduce students to the scientific method

6)Introduce/encourage passion based learning

7)Encourage learning science through mentoring

Global Mars focus on achieving the above goals utilizing planetary science.

*Why do we encourage passion based learning? Global Mars understands that every student's passion is different. We want to help students utilize their passion to help them learn.

*Why do we serve traditionally under served places in the world? Global Mars know that traditionally under served places in the world suffer from the cycle of poverty. Global Mars believe that education is the key to break this cycle of poverty.

*Why do we encourage passion based learning in traditionally under served places in the world? We want to help students utilize their own passion to break the cycle of poverty.

*How are we going to achieve this? Global Mars consists of a "spark" based curriculum and a passion project that can help the young learner gain new skills so they can carry them in a lifelong journey. This can benefit their community and eventually the world. With a statistically valid study we will establish the program's long term and short term efficiency.

*Pilot project: In the summer of 2017 the pilot project will take the Global Mars team to Matara, Sri Lanka to diffuse knowledge to under served students in the community. We are excited to take you on our journey, please stay tuned to our passion based adventure :)

Link -> (

Global Mars Team | #TeamPassionLearning | #slmars


This sounds really exciting! Excited to see it come together!

Thank you!