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This week’s backpack is packed full of opportunities to explore the world around us – starting with our neighbor, nearby Mars and ending in your own backyard. 

Welcome to Mission to Mars 2.0 – in this interactive challenge developed by BSB staff supported by a UNL Honors student design team, participating youth will work to develop and share key features making up a successful Mars colony – and be eligible to win prizes throughout the summer.  Housed on its own website, the M2M 2.0 challenge will grow throughout the summer and will have opportunities for students of all ages to learn about Mars, explore creativity and hone engineering skills as they participate in bi-weekly mini-challenges with final winners eligible to display their colonies at the Nebraska State Fair.  Go to the Mission to Mars website and Instagram page to learn how you can participate.

With its feet planted firmly on Planet Earth, the multi-volume Collecting History podcast series provides upper level high school or even college students sheltering at home with hours of engaging audio exploring the  stories underpinning the national identity of Sweden, Britain, Argentina, India and even the U.S.A.  Created by Swedish college student Klara Eriksson, this website not only provides guided explorations of the national stories of these countries, but suggestions for motivated students to continue their exploration of  big questions of national and global identity.   

Parked at home?  Your imagination doesn’t have to be.  One of America’s greatest inventions is our national park system.  Spanning from sea to shining sea, the National Park Service oversees a network of unique places with rich natural and historic wonder.  Go to the National Park Service site to explore this bounty and participate in your virtual exploration and at-home activities.  

Turning our attention to Nebraska, we suggest you use this time at home to design your own trip to explore our own great state – as soon as conditions allow.   Whether it is exploring Nebraska’s natural heritage, native peoples, pioneer past, the great outdoors or bustling rural and urban communities, there really is something for everybody right here in Nebraska.   Visit thei Visit Nebraska website to design your own trip, as well as to experience ten virtual trips for the entire family!

And finally, Nebraska Game and Parks has ideas for you to explore your own yard.  Their Camp at Home site has ten practical tips to help you have an outdoor adventure in your own back yard.  And while you are camping at home, have fun creating a Nature Weave.