Elementary and Middle School Students Showcase Creations at 13th Annual Contest
Houston-area elementary and middle school students exhibited Mars Rover models they built at the University of Houston’s 13th annual Mars Rover Model Celebration and Competition.
Offering an out-of-this-world experience for participants and onlookers alike, the event featured an array of contest entries showcased by contestants dressed up in their finest Martian and rocket scientist gear.
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.
Culmination of Classroom Activities
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.
Guest Speaker from NASA JPL
Rocket scientist Randii Wessen from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory capped off the event as this year’s award ceremony speaker and presenter. Following the student celebration, Wessen was 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.