All Yolks Aside: Eggs-ploring the Scientific Method

This week, students put on their engineer hats and became rocket scientists as they designed landing gear for their Mars Rovers. After a brief history of the exploration of Mars and a study of the different types of Rovers that NASA has sent to Mars, students worked in teams to create their own landing equipment. Their mission, a competition among groups, was to land their “Egg Rovers” safely on Mars.

Challenged to design rover landing gear with NASA’s 1990’s philosophy, FASTER BETTER CHEAPER, the students collaborated and worked together to design prototypes. They received points based on how well they worked, how fast they worked and how conservative they were with the materials they used. Furthermore, teams that wrote out their procedures (along with drawing and labeling their prototypes), as well as had the most original design also were awarded points. They used materials such as balloons, paper, pipe cleaners, puffed rice, plastic bags, tape and paper cups to build their landing devices. Students were also allowed to provide materials from home, upon additional research and/or assistance from their family members. The winners of the competition had to successfully land their Rover (unbroken egg) as well as to keep all the guidelines in mind.
All the teams engineering designs were very creative and, regardless of the outcome, the students all had a “smashing” good time while practicing their teamwork, planning, and engineering skills. Don’t forget to ask your student what made the landing technology of Spirit and Opportunity different than other landing missions — hint: it was a type of landing that was less expensive and less precise, but absorbed more impact.

Additional Information, for those interested: http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/home/index.html

 

For consideration after today’s lesson (remember some of the things we talked about):

  • Why was it important to collaborate? Would assigning roles help your team? Why or why not?
  • How was doing research before working on your prototype together helpful? 
  • What designs worked best? Why? What about those prototypes made them successful? What materials were best for building and why?
  • What would you do differently if you had to redesign your prototype?
  • If you were hired for NASA, which landing method would you recommend the engineering team to consider? Why?

Also, remember to fill out your moon calendar EVERY day this month!!! We’ll talk about it in our next lesson together!

 


 Questions of the day

1. What makes rust?
This is a great question and very relevant to Mars! Do you know why Mars is called the red planet? It’s because of all the rust that’s on the planet! The planet is made up of a lot of iron and when iron rusts, it turns a brownish-red color. Rusted iron is also (scientifically) known as iron oxide. This means that it was exposed to oxygen and water! When iron and oxygen combine (or react) under the presence of water (or air moisture), iron oxide or rust is formed.

2. Is it possible for there to be different life forms on other planets?
This is a very debated question, but one that fuels a lot of our space missions. Some scientists believe that we, along with all the other living organisms on this planet, are here because of a very small probability. These scientists do not think that other life forms exist because the conditions that allowed our life form to exist were so rare, that it was unlikely to be repeated elsewhere. On the other hand, other scientists argue that with the number of infinite stars that exist in the universe and the number of Goldilocks planets that orbit those stars, there MUST be other life out there. Since we still haven’t discovered any lifeforms, we cannot confirm which theory is accurate, but both theories model possible explanations through mathematics and statistical probability. 

What do you think?

3. How do you make robots?
We talked a little about robots today! Rovers, which have landed on Mars, are all robots! In fact, Mars is the only known planet entirely occupied by robots (at least for now). So, population of Mars: humans = 0; robots = 12, with a few more orbiting the planet. Only Opportunity and Curiosity, both American robots, are still in operation!

So how can you make them? Robots are created by putting together a lot of smaller parts or units into a larger working machines. They use simple machines to create complex machines. In order to work, they need an energy source, either a battery or they plug into the wall. They also need to have a movable body, with joints and wheels and some system that would move these parts, which would usually include electric motors along with electromagnetic parts, some use a hydraulic system, and some use a pneumatic system (a system driven by compressed gases). Robots do become more complicated. Ultimately, after they are built, the robots are programmed through a computer system where they are “commanded” through different computer code and functions.

27 Comments:

  • avatar
    Ms. Wellner / Reply

    Love the puns.

    • avatar

      My egg died a horrible tragic death he fell to his doom! the experiment was very fun though.

    • avatar

      My poor egg feel to its doom but i had a lot of fun

  • avatar
    Keana / Reply

    This was my favorite experiment! My egg broke, but it was still fun!

  • avatar
    Jenny / Reply

    my egg survived and it was really fun

  • avatar
    Kerri / Reply

    My egg never broke and I had so much fun doing this experiment!

  • avatar
    rachel / Reply

    I remember my egg in a orange and surviving the crash, it was so much fun!

  • avatar
    Anthony / Reply

    I remember working with Keana on my rover carrier experiment. Although our egg broke, I think we had an inventive design.

    • avatar
      Margaret Ptak / Reply

      I really liked that you used the word “inventive”! Normally, scientists and engineers run or test their experiments and designs more than once. As long as you’re constantly thinking outside the box and challenging our current “standard” approach, that is what is important! Science NEEDS new ideas! These ideas are what will help us change the world!

  • avatar
    Richard / Reply

    My egg survived ! I had a blast doing the experiment.

    • avatar
      Richard / Reply

      I remember helping you with this experiment it pretty cool!!

  • avatar

    My friends and I put in a lot of work into the rover but sadly the egg craked, but still we had lots of fun putting it together.

  • avatar
    kristen / Reply

    This experiment was fun I rember that my egg didnt brake through thousands of balloons and bubble wrap!

  • avatar
    kristens mom / Reply

    We thought for sure the egg would break in the jar of peanut butter after being tossed off the second floor porch,but to our surprise it didnt.

    • avatar
      Margaret Ptak / Reply

      This was most definitely a very unique design! Great thinking outside the box.

  • avatar

    My classmates and I worked together and created a rover that could hold an egg,but when we dropped our rover our egg cracked and broke but the rover was a really fun experiment.

  • avatar
    Nina, Julianna's Mom / Reply

    Julianna is enjoying the program in general. This was by far her favorite experiment! She felt particularly proud that the egg did not crash and kept it in the refrigerator

    • avatar
      Margaret Ptak / Reply

      It is so wonderful to hear that Julianna is enjoying herself at science! She’s definitely working hard and astutely – a true scientist in-training!
      And while some achievements are hung up ON the fridge, this is definitely an achievement that would have to be kept IN the fridge!

  • avatar
    amelia / Reply

    that was my favorite experiment so far! my egg broke but it was awesome

  • avatar
    roxie / Reply

    I had a lot of fun building the rover with my classmates and it survived.

  • avatar

    Me and my partner had complete different ideas but each of our ideas had a great part in our rover and our ideas combined worked when we found out that the egg didn’t crack we knew we succeded.

  • avatar
    Luke McCormack / Reply

    Mine did not brake

  • avatar
    ella / Reply

    It was so fun when we did that my egg survived and me and my classmates put many layers of a lot of different crazy things

  • avatar
    Sarah / Reply

    I learned a lot from this experiment about how fragile things needed to be safe and that gravity really drags things down also i remember my egg didn’t brake after it was wrapped in layers.

  • avatar
    Brian / Reply

    i love this one since well you can get to break your egg if failed and i love to make things with floaty stuff on it. This one was cool and i hope we do more and i hope i don’t faint when we do the dissecting for the frog.

  • avatar
    NATALIE / Reply

    My egg survived the fall, i think i had a egg carton to cover it, so i cover the egg with many layers so it dosnt break (layers are stuff) and i tied balloons to it so it dosnt fall that hard. I think i learned that i should cover the egg with many layers so it can be protected.

  • avatar
    ronan / Reply

    i thot this was cool beacuse you get to make something that whould save the egg from brakeing it is also a little hard beacuse you only had 30 min to make sone thing that whould save it if brakeing froom the fall.

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