you want to participate in the contest, all you will need to do is
complete either the egg drop challenge portion of the Touchdown activity
Balloon EDL System activity
and submit the items requested in the contest Rules
section. We have included
resources and activities so that you can expand the contest into
a 2-3 day "mini-unit" that will
engage your students in the Mars Exploration Rover mission. Here
is a sample outline of how you can use these resources in your classroom.
- Begin class with a short brainstorming session to let students
identify what they know about Mars. You may want to record
their responses on the board.
- Have small groups (2-3 students) complete the Balloon
Scale Model activity.
This will give students a feel for the size of Mars and how
far it is away from the Earth. Note,
the distance used in this activity shows approximately the
closest that the Earth will be to Mars.
- Either individually or in pairs, have students read through the
Exploring Mars portion of the Student Section. Discuss with
students what they find most interesting about Mars and the Mars
- Preview the contest and what the students will be doing during
the next day. If time permits, allow students to browse
the web sites listed on the last
page (11) of Exploring Mars.
Day Two: Option One - Touchdown Activity
- Introduce the Touchdown Activity. Provide time in class
and as homework for students to design their landing system.
- You will need to test these landing systems on a third day.
If time permits, allow students to revise their lander and re-test.
- Show the video of the entry, descent and landing animations
located in the Movie portion
of Exploring Mars . You may want to build the landing system
described in the Balloon
EDL System activity
to illustrate how the EDL system for the Mars Exploration Rovers
works. You should emphasize that the final design took hundreds
of design-test-revise cycles over the course of a few years
Day Two: Option Two - Balloon EDL System activity
- Review the Entry, Descent and Landing portion of Exploring
Mars and show the videos of the rover entry,
descent and landing.
- Divide the class into small groups and have
them build and drop their EDL systems.