Houston-area elementary and middle school students will be showing off Mars Rover models they built at the University of Houston's 13th annual Mars Rover Model Celebration and Competition Saturday, Jan. 31. Offering an out-of-this-world experience for participants and onlookers alike, the event will feature an array of contest entries being showcased by contestants dressed up in their finest Martian and rocket scientist gear. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Houston Room of the Student Center and is free for the public to attend.
Each year, 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.
The models are built in the fall during a six-week classroom-learning or homework project on Mars. The students were given design criteria for a rover and required to do basic research on Mars to determine the operational objectives and structural features of their rovers.
An educational outreach endeavor for third- through eighth-graders from Houston and its surrounding areas, the contest was developed to spark students' interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Showing how STEM fields offer exciting, relevant and accessible career paths, this contest offers hands-on projects that provide very true-to-life results, encouraging children to take learning beyond the textbook.
Rocket scientist Randii Wessen from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will cap off the event as this year's award ceremony speaker and presenter. Following the student celebration, Wessen will be featured at a talk and dinner hosted by the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), speaking about his experience with Mars rovers.
Area elementary and middle school kids, dressed up as Martians and scientists to showcase their homemade Mars rover models
13th Annual Mars Rover Model Celebration and Competition
9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 31
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Elementary schools
1-6 p.m. Middle schools
University of Houston
Houston Room of the Student Center
Second Floor, room 220
Off Calhoun Road, Entrance 1
Editorial Note: Photos are available to media by contacting Lisa Merkl. A short video recap of the event is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx9ChvPhhtI.
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