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Middle School Electives Take Corbett Prep Students
to Mars and Beyond

Middle School electives give Corbett Prep students chance to explore interests in STEM, arts, languages and more.

middle school electives

Teacher Pavel Terentev shows Middle School students in the “Mission to Mars” elective how a 3D printer works.

Nov. 13, 2014 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Imagine life on Mars — your life on Mars. How would you travel there? What would your home look like? How would you grow food?

Middle School students at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS are seeking answers to these types of questions in a new elective called “Mission to Mars.” During the 12-week class, the students assume the roles of scientists to inhabit Mars, using experiments and research individually and in teams to finalize a Mars colonization plan.

The class teacher is Pavel Terentev, an entrepreneur, a science and engineering enthusiast, a former CAMP IDS counselor and owner of a tutoring company. Known to his students as “Mr. Paul,” Terentev is a charismatic presenter who created “Mission to Mars” to inspire wonder and encourage enthusiasm among students who have an interest in space exploration. It’s one of the many electives available to Corbett Prep Middle School students throughout the school year.

Electives meet at least once a week and offer students a chance to go beyond the core academic curriculum and expand their opportunities. Students can pursue passions, challenge themselves and uncover new areas of interest. Art, band, computer programming, French, geometry, musical theatre, STEM and photography are among the long list of elective choices for students in grades 6 through 8.

Middle School students also sign up for clubs, which include academic, artistic and athletic options. Students can learn Bollywood dance, build model vehicles and buildings, compete on the Mathletics team, perfect their back handsprings and more.

In “Mission to Mars,” students began by learning the basics about Mars, space travel, and the obstacles scientists face when planning to create a human colony on another planet.

After they completed studying and took an exam they began using Sketchup to start planning their own colony. Google Sketchup is a computer program used to create 3D models that the students used to design mockups of space shuttles and life support crafts. The class was also challenged to use the program to quickly design everyday items they would need on Mars, such as forks and keys. That way they could use the 3D printer to create supplies for their colony rather than pack everything they needed on Earth.

middle school electives

Students used balloons and string to demonstrate the orbits of Earth and Mars.

Seventh grader Connor Leach signed up for “Mission to Mars” because he wanted to learn more about Mars and how spaceships were designed. He sees himself staying on Earth, however.

So much progress has been made in space travel and exploration that it is a strong possibility others will visit or move to Mars in a Corbett Prep student’s lifetime.

“Mars is our closest planet, and we could possibly go there,” Connor said. “It’s amazing to think about that.”


Founded in 1968, Corbett Preparatory School of IDS (formerly Independent Day School - Corbett Campus) is a fully accredited, nonsectarian private school located in Tampa’s Carrollwood neighborhood. The school serves over 500 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and offers the International Baccalaureate program of study for all students. Teachers are endorsed in gifted education through a master’s level grant with the University of South Florida College of Education. Corbett Prep balances a dynamic, nurturing and safe learning environment with high standards and high expectations to develop a positive approach to life and learning. Corbett Prep has become recognized as an exemplary school with over 7,000 visitors observing and learning from Corbett Prep teachers. For more information, visit or contact the Admissions Office at (813) 961-3087.