Last week the fourth graders blasted off into space exploration! They began their study with the big question – why should/shouldn’t we explore space? Opinions were mixed at first, but after viewing NASA videos and taking a deeper look at the real Mars Rover program, students agreed that we should explore space. The class decided to make their own mission to an unknown planet and send a remote rover to explore it for them first. They looked at how real rover “drivers” operate their machines from earth by writing code. Then, the fourth graders each wrote a working code for their partner to read and follow exactly as a “human rover.” The goal for each rover was to successfully navigate obstacles on an “alien planet” to reach a “crater” and retrieve a “rock sample.”
The students quickly discovered that their codes needed to be very specific or they wouldn’t work. After testing and improving the codes, the class re-launched their rovers and completed several successful missions. This week, the fourth graders have been using the engineering design process to build working Mars rover models!