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Science Fair Project: STEM Challenge Mars Lander
January 4, 2017 by Tracy Leave a Comment
Allie wants to go to Mars when she grows up so she decided to do an engineering challenge as her first grade science project. The challenge involves designing a lander to contain marshmallows when dropped from a height over 6 feet.
We first watched this video on NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity to see the challenge of landing on Mars.
Humans have not reached Mars yet
Robots have been to Mars to explore the planet
Landing a robot on Mars is a big challenge
NASA used parachutes, rockets, and springs to land the Curiosity Rover
The Engineering Design Challenge:
You have made it to Mars and need to safely land with your fellow astronauts.
The task is to design a lander using only the materials listed below that lands safely (keeps all of her astronaut friends in the cup).
The lander will be dropped from 6 feet two times to test the design.
Materials: Index cards, tape, straw, cup, and marshmallows
Ask: What do you know?
A parachute will help the lander land softer
Marshmallows are not heavy so it had a lighter load
Straws are good to hold up a parachute
The tape will hold everything together
Create and test first design: The first design was to make a lander with a parachute. When the lander was dropped from a height of 6 feet the lander fell over dumping out all of her astronaut marshmallow friends.
Redesign and test second design: The lander needed to be more stable when it landed so she gave it legs, “springs” (accordion folded index cards). This design did not include a parachute. When this design was tested, it bounced and the marshmallows flew out the top. Allie decided to combine the two designs by adding springs and a parachute.
Conclusion and final design: The design used a parachute, legs, and springs to keep her marshmallow friends inside the lander!
What was learned:
The parachute helped slow down the landing
Index cards as springs helped soften the landing
The legs kept it from tipping over
Here is a picture of Allie’s final lander design. She called it the “Allie Express”. You’ve got to love a first grader’s creativity!
This was a simple engineering challenge and easy to do with simple materials. We hope this inspires you too!
The challenge was adapted from here.
Filed Under: 3 ingredient experiments, engineering, Lovely Conversations, science fair project
Tagged With: first, science fair
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