On Friday, April 25, 2008 the 5th and 6th grade students of Prairie Middle School learned that NASA plans to return to the Earthís moon with manned space flights. They also learned that the work done in the Mars Rover Competitions may lead to discoveries that may be helpful to further space missions. For the past two years Prairie Middle School has taken 5th and 6th grade teams to Moscow for the Mars Rover Design Competition. This is a competition for students from the northern part of the state who have worked for many months to develop a Mars Rover made from Legoís that can complete many tasks. Some of the tasks are: rock collection, blind drive, speed drive and the hill climb. The students also had to create a poster display and give a speech justifying their design. This presentation includes any problems they encountered and the solutions. Along with the rover and the display they have to keep a Lab Notebook in which they document the design process.
The Hot Pink Moon Rocks: Daun Hoene, Adrianne Nuxoll, Hunter McWilliams, Alex Hartnet, Katarina Tillinghast, and Emily McHugh, were named Grand Champions for the North Idaho Competition. This earned the team a position in the final competition that took place later that evening. The Hot Pink Moon Rocks received an award for the lightest weighing rover in the statewide competition.
There were other teams that received awards from the Preliminary Design Competition. The Hot Pink Moon Rocks and the Mini Midgets co-accepted an award for top poster display. The Stonger Hydro Tractorís team received the award for fastest rover. These honors are proof that hard work pays off.
Prairie Middle School has found that implementing this program into our curriculum has contributed to helping students learn in a different way. We believe that hands-on experience cements the learning process. The students have learned problem solving techniques and creativity. It is really exciting to see how much this program has grown.
The Mars Rover program is funded statewide by the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium. Local funding comes from the State of Idaho Governorís Grant and a donation from the DeVlieg Foundation. This is a great learning experience for all students and allows them the opportunity to work as a team and to be a part of something much larger. Thank you to all the parent chaperones who took time out of their busy schedules to help the teams as they competed. Without parent volunteers we could not offer these amazing opportunities to our students.