Planetary Pen Pals


SOL 192

March 2044

Early Martian settlers deemed that physical paper and writing instruments were a waste of resources—they utilized digital devices and type instead. The recent emergence of paper on Mars, made from small plant fibers, has allowed for letter writing to become popular pastime for settlers. The popularity of letter writing has spurred a new conversation in schools on Mars on whether a handwriting education should be included in the school curriculum.

Exposition. Since there are no large trees or old growth forests on Mars to harvest, paper is made from plant fibers. These plant fibers are sourced from crops that are harvested in hydroponic farming systems (corn, potatoes, other vegetables).

The rapid increase in the adolescent Martian population has led to the construction of new schools and the creation of the Martian Education Council (MEC). Martian settlers have tasked MEC with creating an academic curriculum for students on Mars.

“Written communication has been an important element of human history and we hope to instill the value of handwriting in our children on Mars.”
— Dr. Marshall Donda, Martian Education Council

Last week, MEC administrators proposed to incorporate calligraphy and handwriting into the curriculum. Literature teacher, Dr. Marshall Donda, said “handwriting is a powerful way to connect Martian students to their linguistic origins on Earth. Written communication has been an important element of human history and we hope to instill the value of handwriting in our children on Mars.”

In order to kickstart the handwriting classes for Martian schoolchildren, MEC has teamed up with the Los Angeles Unified School District to introduce the Mars-Earth Pen Pal program.

Students of all ages on Mars will be linked with a student in the Los Angeles area. Unlike, modern methods of communication using video, digital text, or Virtual/Augmented Reality, these students will only communicate with each other through weekly (Earth week) letters. Initially, the interplanetary letters will be written by hand on tablets and be sent digitally. After one Earth year of correspondence, both Earth and Mars students will be given the chance to write a physical letter that will be sent to their planetary counterpart on the Early 2046 Mars Shuttle.

Dr. Donda highlights that the Mars-Earth Pen Pal program will encourage handwriting for Martian and Los Angeles students, but more importantly, it will also enable students to better understand their peers on the sister planet and perhaps even make a lifelong friend.

“Friendship has no boundaries.”
— Jim Bennett, LA School District Superintendent

Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, Jim Bennett— “friendship has no boundaries. The experience of writing to another human being over 250 million kilometers away precisely captures the most human intentions for exploring and settling the Red Planet.”

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Max has been a writer for The Martian Passage since 2040. She writes about education.