Rover Restraint—Mission to Mars
This week was our last visit with the 7th graders at Miles River and we certainly left them on a fun note. The students put on their engineer hats once again, this time becoming rocket scientists as they designed landing gear for their Mars Rovers. After a brief discussion about space exploration and engineering design challenges involved in space travel, 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 using the least amount of money budgeted to them.
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 of the 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. We wrapped up by talking about how this activity was similar to a scene in the recent movie The Martian.
If you have a minute, visit the NASA Mars rover website at: http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/home/index.html