Name of Activity Lunar Rover Mini Design Project
Author Chris Paetsch
Keywords Lunar Rover, moon, constraints, Engineering Design Process, technical drawings
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will design a Lunar Rover on paper that must account for a long list of constraints.
Lesson Objectives: To allow students to apply knowledge of the moon while learning the benefits of the design process. This project is intended to be an introduction to the engineering design process and associated concepts, such as technical drawings.
Materials Needed: Enough blank sheets of paper for each student to redesign multiple times.
Necessary Background How the conditions on the different bodies in the solar system varied. The concept of the engineering design process had been introduced briefly, mentioning that it was an iterative process used to solve design problems and the goal of the design project was to better understand why creating a design requires iteration. The qualities of an effective drawing were also mentioned, such as neatness, clear labels, and being specific. Although this particular activity utilizes space science as the background, it can easily be adapted to other appropriate topics (such as designing miniature rovers for the exploration of anatomy of the human body).

Design Process

  1. Introduce the design problem (Identify the Problem).
    1. Tell students that they are to design a lunar rover capable of performing several tasks.
    2. The design requirements include:
      1. The ability to pick up rocks.
      2. The ability to store rocks.
      3. The ability to propel itself over rough terrain.
      4. The ability to navigate around the lunar surface
      5. The ability to generate power for operation.
      6. The ability to transport itself from lunar orbit to the surface.
      7. Must be small and light enough to be launched from Earth’s surface.
  2. Have students research the conditions on the moon (or provide them with research) so that they know what they are designing for.
  3. Give each student a blank sheet to brainstorm their first design.
    1. Students are to draw their design with enough detail so that it could be built from their specifications.
  4. Once students have completed their design, evaluate each design and be sure that it accounts for all the constraints. This teacher evaluation is the “testing” of the design.
  5. Students will build upon and improve their first design until they are satisfied and the design fits all the constraints.
Extensions: Add more constraints to the list of constraints.
Modifications: This activity works best with smaller groups of students (appx. 15-20).
Reference 1
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