The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Info

Grade Level
High School
STEM Concepts
Space Travel, Engineering, Biology, Nutrition, Math, Astrophysics, Space Flight

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Note that this novel contains adult language.

Source: Andy Weir


STEM Read Interviews Andy Weir

Andy Weir, best-selling author of The Martian, sat down for a virtual interview with STEM Read Director Gillian King-Cargile and teens from Northern Illinois University’s STEM and creative writing summer camps. Andy discusses writing, publishing, fan fiction, cat ownership, NASA’s cool factor, and shares secrets from Ridley Scott’s trailer for “The Martian” starring Matt Damon.

Rovin' Around Mars: The Mars Rover Program

Join us and NASA Ambassador Joel Knapper as he talks about “The Martian,” and the Mars rover program.  Joel discusses the history of the rovers, and why we sent the rovers we did to Mars.

Rovin' Around Mars: Mission to Mars

Join us and NASA Ambassador Joel Knapper as he talks about “The Martian,” and the Mars rover program.  Joel talks about the possibility of sending humans to Mars, and the challenges that come with that.

Rovin' Around Mars: How To Be An Astronaut

Join us and NASA Ambassador Joel Knapper as he talks about “The Martian,” and the Mars rover program.  Joel discusses what NASA is doing now to advance technology to get humans to Mars, and how you can become an astronaut.

Potatoes on Mars?

Craig Schultz, Northern Illinois University Greenhouse supervisor, talked with STEM Read about “The Martian,” by Andy Weir.  He talks about how astronauts could grow certain plants on Mars, and how astronauts on Mars could use plants to stay alive.

Martian Potato Party!

In The Martian, Mark Watney has to live on potatoes for years.  If you had to only eat potatoes for years, would you ever want to eat them again?  Chef Chad from Tapa La Luna in DeKalb, IL shows us a recipe that would make even Mark hungry for potatoes: a potato frittata!


Fan Fiction

Andy Weir’s best-selling novel tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney and his heroic and sometimes hilarious struggle to survive on Mars after a freak accident leaves him stranded with no way to contact Earth. Mark’s journey might be over, but our obsession is still going strong! Send us your fan fiction. We’ll publish it online and forward our favorites to Andy Weir!

Paste your completed story into an email and send it to

Martian Math Mania!

This isn’t the first time Mars has captured our attention. Literature is filled with tales of Martians making their way to Earth. Check out our Martian Math Mania game to calculate your odds of surviving an alien invasion.


Author Andy Weir appeared on episode 11 of The STEM Read Podcast: Science Fiction to Fuel Science Fact listen today on iTunes, and NPR Online!


Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons

These questions, prompts, and short activities provide quick ways to inspire interest and explore the STEAM concepts related to the book. Idea Sparks and Mini lessons can also be used for differentiation and to foster new ideas of your own.

Download the lesson plan

Solving Communication Problems

In Andy Weir’s The Martian, one of Mark Watney’s top priorities is to establish contact with NASA to ensure his rescue. Mark is eventually able to establish communication with NASA using ASCII, a code that uses numbers to represent characters in the English language. In this ELA lesson, students will research various forms of nonverbal communication, then demonstrate a particular form to their classmates.

Download the lesson plan

First Aid for The First Martian

Students will be presented with the various injuries that Mark Watney may have suffered during the large storm that left him stranded on Mars. Students will learn how to treat these wounds and use actual first aid equipment to do so.

Download the lesson plan

Engineering a Mars Habitat

In this engineering challenge, students will design and build an airtight habitat similar to the one Mark Watney built for his long-distance journey to the Schiaparelli crater.

Download the lesson plan

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mark Whatney needed to grow as much food as he could in the least amount of time.  Growing enough food for all is a global issue.  In this extended biology challenge, students devise an experiment to determine which cultivation method produces the most food in the shortest amount of time.

Download the lesson plan

Video Discussion Guide

Watch the videos and then use these questions to facilitate classroom discussions about the topics presented.

Download the Video Discussion Guide.

About the Author

Andy Weir was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. Other titles by Andy include Artemis and The Egg.

Learn more at

Source: Andy Weir.