Mars Rovers Unveiled at UH by Budding Scientists

Students Design Space Missions for Fun and Learning

Hundreds of Houston-area schoolchildren have been focused on Mars, as nearly 500 third- through eighth-graders from 32 schools are taking part in the eighth annual Mars Rover Celebration at UH, Saturday, Jan. 30, from noon to 6 p.m. in the Houston Room of the University Center.  The event is free and open to the public for viewing.

The Mars Rover Celebration is a UH educational program developed to spark students’ interest in science and technology.  Student teams research, design and construct a model rover to carry out a specific science mission on the planet’s surface.  A $25 limit on supplies helps students learn about budgets and project management, while keeping the costs accessible for all schools.  Past rovers have been crafted from simple art supplies, found objects, solar-power kits and radio-controlled car chassis. 

“As the University of Houston works to achieve Tier One status, the Mars Rover Celebration is a key piece of educational outreach,” said Edgar Bering, professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at UH, who has steered the event since its inception.  “To address the shortage of American children entering college who plan to major in science or engineering, teachers have to show students that careers in those fields are exciting and relevant, and UH’s ongoing commitment to the Mars Rover Celebration gives children the opportunity to see science and technology at work in their own lives.  As they build their missions and models, we build for the future.” 

As students demonstrate the products of their hard work, various UH departments and programs will be showcasing educational exhibit booths and stops on a science and engineering-oriented campus tour.  The Texas Learning and Computation Center (TLC2) will present a 3-D drive on Mars in its state-of-the-art Visualization Theater.  The Center for Advanced Materials will give students a look at its clean lab with sophisticated vacuum chamber that simulates space conditions, while a NASA scientist teaches students on space weather in the campus observatory.  Two labs in the College of Technology will give students a glimpse of life science and biomedical research.  Other exhibitors will include the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the Cullen College of Engineering, the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, teachHOUSTON and NASA. 

Students will hear remarks from UH president and chancellor Renu Khator, NASA engineer Kristen Painting, “Engines of Our Ingenuity” host John Lienhard and legendary NASA engineer Sy Liebergot, who was in the control room during the Apollo 13 mission. 

WHAT: Eighth Annual Mars Rover Model Celebration and Exhibition
WHEN: Noon-6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 30

Noon–1 p.m., Entries arrive
1–2:20 p.m., Elementary school judging
2:30–3:40 p.m., Middle school judging
3:40–5:15 p.m., Remarks from UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator, Speaker presentations, Multimedia of the day’s event
5:15 p.m., Awards ceremony
WHERE: University of Houston, University Center – Houston Room
Off Calhoun Road, Entrance 1
WHO: Area elementary and middle school students (entrants)

The event is judged and staffed by volunteers from UH, NASA, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AIAA).  Sponsors include TLC2, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Department of Physics, College of Education, Office of the Provost, AIAA and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation and Statistics. 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Video available upon request, short preview located at and photos of last year’s event can be found at


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