Once upon a time, I was asked to come up with an activity to do with students at Canyon Elementary School in Cataldo, ID; in return they would feed me, and other participating scientists, dinner. Trading in my traditional St. Patty’s day garb of green tinted beer goggles for my metaphorical sMartian space helmet I agreed to find some way to bring a little bit of Mars to Cataldo, ID.
Turns out that deciding to do something is the easy part, I could not for the life of me think up a cool project that would have any tie-in to Mars.
“Why did it have to do with Mars?” asks those new to reading this blog
Well there new friend, ignore the resounding snickers of the more veteran readers and read back a few posts of ol’ aunty Two Step’s and you’ll find your answer.
Seriously though, of course it had to do with Mars. I wanted to talk about my adventures on sMars and then be able to pass on some knowledge about rMars (real Mars). I let my inner child guide me and came up with something that combined rovers, balloons (and the potential for balloon animals), the physics of trajectories, and PRIZES!
Basically, I made a little lander pod similar to the ones used by Spirit and Opportunity, put a bouncy ball prize in it, and let groups of students decorate it and then protect it by putting balloons on it (to simulate an airbag landing). Then I had them throw their “rover lander” and try to hit a mark on the floor that they couldn’t necessarily see.
All in all it worked great and we all had a bunch of fun. Here are the instructions and resources I used and I encourage you all to try it out and send me some pictures of your results!
Keep on dancin’,