Why The Martian by Andy Weir should be taught in High School

In search for life’s meaning, we sometimes come across books that change our perspective about life. The Martian is one of those books. It has helped us see the world in a different light and enlightened us. This reason alone should be enough for it to be taught. (Spoilers below)

The book “The Martian” is a detailed book about survival on the red planet. In the book, an astronaut named Mark Watney is left behind by his crew. However, he manages to survive through extreme hardships by relying on a lot of science. The book presents otherwise boring scientific facts in a creative way and should be made part of school programs.

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The main character Mark is a biologist, mechanical engineer as well as a astronaut. In the book he is described as a “fix it man who plays with plants”. What a great way to get school children interested in science. (Spoilers below)

However, for the book to become part of the school programs a toned down version of the book has to be made. In the first line, Mark says, “I’m pretty much f*****. That’s my considered opinion. F****ed”.

Reasons It Should Be Taught In School

Survival

First, it is a story about survival. The main character is stranded on a planet with no other person and no way to contact Earth or the crew of the Hermes, the equivalent of the space shuttle for Mars. This book showcases indigenous ways of solving problems and the application of education in real life. It can serve as an inspiration to kids and encourage them not to despair.

Tracking down the Mars Pathfinder rover and hacking it to communicate with Earth. Brilliant!

Science

These days it is unacceptable for someone to be ignorant about a fashion brand. However the same person will happily chirp “I am no good at Maths and Science”. The way this book introduces science resonates with the younger generation. This book gives extremely accurate scientific facts.

In the book, the main character has to come up with a way to make water. For that, he has to generate hydrogen and oxygen, and then mix them to make water. This fact, combined with other technically accurate facts could be an interesting way to teach kids science.

 Math

It makes math interesting. In the book, the author presents extremely detailed calculations of how long Mark will survive with his current levels of food and air. It is always a challenge to get students interested in math. This book has been praised for presenting cold hard mathematical facts in a friendly tone. Andy Weir describes the predicament on Mars with great accuracy.

How much soil can you fit into a tent? How many liters of water is required to ensure optimum moisture for soil?

Astronomy

It is an interesting way to teach astronomy. In the book, the main character has to come up with an ancient tool called a sextant. He uses the equipment available to him to make the device required in navigating the stars. Researchers have confirmed that planetary orbits, distances and gravitational assist described in this book are accurate.

On Earth this tool is used to point to Polaris, the north star. The equivalent is Deneb. Mark navigates using tools from the 16th century. How cool is that!

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Agriculture

It encourages kids to get involved in agriculture. The world might face a food crisis in the near future due to the alarming rates of global population growth. The stranded astronaut in the book has to come up with ways to feed himself. By reading the book, young minds will be motivated to join the next revolution in agricultural production.

It should be noted that young people shun agriculture and do not perceive it as a reliable income generating activity. Through reading such books, students can change their perception about agriculture. Mark has enough multivitamins however needs to find a way to generate calories. 12 potatoes and a few seeds is all he uses to grow the extra food he needs to survive.

Sustainability

The book also encourages sustainable living. In the book, Mark is forced to grow food and fertilize it with his own excrement. People have been doing this for centuries. It used to be called “Night Soil”.  In essence, the book promotes the use of organic fertilizer.

The book highlights the use of renewable energy. In the book, when Mindy Park stumbles upon Mark’s shining solar panels, they discover that he is alive. This would encourage kids to find out more about the potential of solar panels. They could then further develop solar panels to power a more sustainable future.

Innovation

One’s ability to solve complex problems is how success at school is demonstrated. The Martian encourages innovation along with thinking outside the box. In the book, the Main character had to make hydrogen from hydra-zine. This is very dangerous; one miscalculation could see him create a hydrogen bomb. In this, kids not only learn about explosiveness of hydrogen but also that in dire situations they should never be afraid to try something, if they truly believe it could help them.

Real Politics and Humanity

The book should be taught in school because it encourages international cooperation in scientific ventures. In the book, Mark’s only hope for a food resupply blows. Scientists from the China National Space Administration offer to send Mark help in return for having a scientist of theirs on Mars. Thus, the book encourages border-less cooperation when it comes to scientific innovation.

During talks at the Chinese space agency Guo Ming, director of the China National Space Administration says, “If this becomes a negotiation by diplomats, it will never resolve. We need to keep this among scientists. Space agency to space agency. I will get a translator and call NASA’s Director. We’ll work out an agreement, and then present it to our governments.”

The book encourages cooperation when it comes to scientific innovation without consideration of politics.

Space Travel

Man first went into space on 12 April 1961. Eight years later man had stepped on the moon. The sixties were full of stories of heroes of the space age. These days we hardly get to hear any. It could get children interested in space travel.

Because of the main characters ingenuity and innovation, kids could get introduced and offered basic orientation about space travel. By making it part of the school program, students will grow up to take part in future innovations at NASA and other related institutions. By so doing, more minds that are talented could come up with solutions for faster and safer space travel.

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Humor

Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.  ~Author Unknown. This is very well demonstrated in the book.  The book encourages one not to lose hope even in difficult situations. Each time Mark hits a dead-end he looks at the situation in a jovial way before using science to solve it.

 Mark says: “Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.” What do you know? I’m in command”

Conclusion

However, for the book to become part of the school programs a toned down version of the book has to be made. The first monologue in the book uses a curse word. Such words might not be appropriate for a young audience. Thus, it is necessary to tone down on all the curse words in the book, while still keeping the book interesting to readers. upcoming film adaptation of the novel, the human capacity for “science the shit out of this,” and it’s incredibly awesome and inspiring.

This book has won the admiration of readers all over the globe. It is only fitting that such a precious literally jewel should reach as much of the masses as possible. Getting it in a classroom is one way to do it. Overall, the book is of immense benefits to students.

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