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 were given a $50 million dollar budget to purchase items to outfit their landers and 20 minutes to design and build their landers. They used materials such as balloons, paper, pipe cleaners, puffed rice, plastic bags, tape and paper cups to build their landing devices. The winners of the competition had to successfully land their Rover (unbroken egg) as well as stick to a tight budget and spend less money than their competitors.
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, budgeting, and engineering skills. Don’t forget to ask your student what made the landing technology of Spirit and Opportunity different than other landing missions.
If you have a minute, visit the NASA Mars rover website at: http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/home/index.html