In this week’s lesson we learned a lot about Mars. We started the lesson by finding the position of Mars within the Solar system. We learned the order of the planets that orbit around the sun and then groups of students worked together to cut all planets out from a print-out and glue them in the right order on a large black cardboard sheet. An acronym of “My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nachos” was very helpful to find the right order.
After finishing this activity we discussed together why Mars is so interesting for us and why we study it most of all planets. We learned that Mars is not only the closest but also the most similar planet to Earth. As a part of this discussion, we read together a book named “You are the first kid on Mars” that has many cool pictures and gave us lot of interesting facts about conditions on Mars and its surface.
Then we discussed how people explored Mars in the past and how we explore it now. We talked about telescopes, orbiters, landers, and also about rovers. We covered all rovers that have ever been sent to Mars and focused on the newest one – Curiosity Rover – that was sent to Mars in 2012. We learned about the new way that engineers from NASA used to land this rover safely on Mars and even watched a video that showed its landing.
Afterwards, we worked like NASA engineers and tried to find a design that would protect a rover from breaking apart when dropped on the Mars surface. We used an egg as a rover and dropped it from a ladder. Students came up with several protection designs and when we tested them most of them survived the impact. Good job engineers!