Name of Unit Mars Rover
Author(s) Hannah Garfield & Kirsten Jorgensen
School Vinson Owen
Teacher Jill Pappas
Brief Description This unit’s theme is landing a rover on mars. The unit incorporates themes of testing and design iteration, service learning/biomedical engineering/human factors, and NXT robotics.
Grade(s) 5th (but could be adapted for others)
Keywords mars rover, NXT robotics, biomedical, service learning, parachutes, egg drop, space, human factors
Number of Weeks 9
Week 1 Intro to project and begin activity1 (Parachute). Talk to students about what they know about what a mars rover is, what it does, and why we would create one. Show NASA video: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.php?id=1090 Talk about parachutes – why we need them, what they do, what are characteristics of a successful parachute, etc. Have students plan some parachute designs, start building.
Week 2 Continue parachute project. Make sure students iterate design many times and test and record their data (duration of fall) frequently. Leave students a good amount of time at the end of class to present their designs and discuss which they thought worked best and why.
Week 3 Talk about impact – what it means and why it would be important to protect a Mars rover from experiencing hard impact. Mimic sensitivity of Mars rover with a raw egg (in sealed plastic bag). Allow students time to plan structures to encase their delicate egg so that it would survive a large drop. Begin building.
Week 4 Continue egg drop project. Make sure students iterate design many times and test and record their data (success of egg survival) frequently. Leave students a good amount of time at the end of class to present their designs and discuss which they thought worked best and why.
Week 5 Introduce problem: person constructing Mars rover or manning Marsrover (if you want to pretend it’s manned?) has a disability, but they need to perform the same tasks as an able-bodied person. Can they be helped with engineering Talk about importance of designing for the client. Pretend STOMPers are disabled client – let students interview them about what kind of tasks their job involves, what kind of device they could operate, if it’s comfortable, etc. Let students plan and then build.
Week 6 Continue biomed/human factors project. Leave students a good amount of time at the end of class to present their design and discuss how it works and if they think it was a successful design.
Week 7 Time to design the rover itself! Introduce idea of programming – highly specific instructions (maybe human robot?). Talk about what kind of difficulties a rover might encounter on Mars (hills, craters, etc.). Ask students to design a Mars rover NXT robot that can move over this type of terrain. Allow students to start building robot and plan how they want it to move. Maybe start programming?   NOTE: the majority of the students in our STOMP classroom have had some exposure to NXT robotics before this class
Week 8 Continue to work on NXT project – building and programming. Allow students to begin testing robots on rocky terrain (make some sort of bumpy surface).
Week 9 Continue to work on NXT project – building and programming. Allow students to begin testing robots on rocky terrain (make some sort of bumpy surface). Leave a good amount of time at the end of the class for students to present their rover and explain why they designed it the way they did.
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