Overview

Design, build and program a vehicle (rover) capable of navigating a Mars surface using the LEGO Robotics NXT kit. Learners increase their awareness about Mars, its geologic features, environment, and the technology available to explore this planet. Learners explore resources to gain knowledge about the geologic features of Mars, topography, rocketry, robotics, programming, and the engineering design process.

Investigating Mars, What's it all About?

Learners first explore Mars and Earth in the context of the Solar System and the Universe. Students a) construct several models of the Solar System that represent both the difference in volume and distance from the Sun; b) build star charts to identify constellations in the visiting Star Lab (mobile planetarium).
Learners then engage in an in-depth exploration of the surface of Mars by a) a Mars Match activity which provides an opportunity for students to match features of Mars with features of Earth; b) an analysis of THEMIS images taken by the camera aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft; 3) a visit to the ASU Mars Education Center where students target a location on Mars for THEMIS imaging and hear directly from a scientist about the Mars Exploration Rovers which have been collecting data on Mars for five years now.

Destination – Mars! Getting To Mars

Learners engage and explore resources to gain knowledge about getting to Mars. Participants a) watch videos of the Spirit Rocket Launch to Mars; b) design, build and test a cost-effective bottle rocket to understand the processes involved in designing and launching a rocket as a simulation of how to get an object to land on Mars.

Exploring the Surface of Mars

Learners explore rover exploration and engage in the designing, building, and programming of their own rover using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits. Students design and build a rover with a particular "mission goal" in mind. Rovers are then programmed to navigate a Mars-like surface.

Imagine Living On Mars

Learners apply the Engineering Design Process to design and program an interactive living environment on Mars using the programming software Scratch (scratch.mit.edu), a tool for creative production. Students share their final projects with each other as well as their families at the final family night.

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