When science teacher Kathryn Spivey told her students at Benjamin Banneker Middle School in Burtonsville, Maryland that they were going to take off and visit planet Mars for a day on a Magic School Bus of their own, they didn’t know what to expect.

Unlike the one Ms. Frizzle’s science students ride in the animated series, the bus that showed up in their school parking lot this May was black, not yellow. But even though they didn’t actually go all the way to Mars, the experience was still pretty magical, Spivey said.

Inside, a long bench runs along one end of the bus’ gleaming white interior, with tablets stationed in the middle. The bus is also decked out with high-definition video and special effects panels, which take students on a five-minute, 360-degree immersive trip across the entire solar system.

Students learn a little about each of the planets before they land on planet Mars. Along the way, they also learn to solve problems that astronauts could face on a journey into space. What happens if something goes wrong with their spacecraft? What happens if the batteries run out and they need to find another energy source before they freeze? Then, the students are given an individual tablet and get to work on designing a rover and completing activities that help them think like engineers.

“It was more really about problem solving and using the strategies in the tech and science design process,” Spivey, the school’s science and technology content specialist, said. “They’re learning, reminding themselves of the science concepts like what do you need to survive, like oxygen and water, and they talked about chemistry so it actually ties into all of the middle school science program.”

Read the full article about Learning Undefeated by Javeria Salman at The Hechinger Report.