Here is an engineering challenge for you. Drop a water balloon from the second story of a building onto a rocky bottom and have it survive. In Cosmic Lander, our students do just that!
In this popular class at AstroCamp, our campers transform into teams of engineers. They model landing fragile scientific gear (the water balloon) onto a hard and rocky surface (Mars). They learn that sending rovers and probes to other places in our solar system takes a process of steps.
Step 1: Plan it
Work with teammates. Design it, draw it out and make a plan. Know what you are going to do and how much it’ll cost. NASA has a budget, therefore so do our students. Different materials are worth different amounts of points.
Step 2: Build It
Bring the design into reality. Use appropriate materials. Figure out a way to make it work together.
Step 3: Test It
Give it a try. See if it works. If it didn’t, then analyze what went wrong, make a correction, and test it again. If necessary, start the process over until you are successful (you will be successful). Never give up!
It is unusual for scientists and engineers to find the best and most successful way of doing something the very first time. Keep in mind the words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Every attempt is a new piece of knowledge.
Written by: Mimi Garai