Happy Red Planet Day, Educators! Red Planet Day celebrates Mars, encouraging exploration and understanding. Today, let’s embark on an exciting journey to explore Mars with your students through simple lessons, 3D printing, and robotics. Get ready to make the Red Planet come alive in your classroom!
1. Mars Globes and Fun Facts (1 hour)
Start the day by introducing Mars with a quick lesson on its unique features. Engage students with a hands-on activity, creating simple 3D-printed Mars globes. Discuss fun facts about the Red Planet while they check out the details on their globes, fostering curiosity and excitement. There are many free models of Mars available on Thingiverse. See if they can match up features on their globes with the topography maps on our MimioSTEM Mars Mat or the Sharespace Foundation’s Giant Mars Map.
2. 3D-Printed Martian Terrain (1 hour):
Enhance spatial reasoning skills by having students design and 3D print their own Martian landscapes. Before the lesson, print a few models from MyStemKits’s Landform Topography Kit so students can discuss and name different landforms. Then, guide them through the basics of 3D design software, allowing them to create unique terrains showcasing Mars’ distinct features. Use basic shapes or layers of the “Scribble” tool in Tinkercad to create these for younger students, or Blender’s more-advanced design software for students comfortable with that program. Display the finished models for a visual exploration of the Red Planet.
3. Mini-Rover Design Challenge (1 –2 hours):
Dive into the world of Mars exploration by challenging students to design and build mini-rovers using robotics kits or found objects (such as rubber band or balloon cars). Alternately, create modifications for an existing robot such as our MyBot robots to make it better suited to handle a Martian environment. In a single class period, they can plan and construct their modifications or rovers. Once they are prepared, have them test their creations in a simulated Mars environment. Encourage teamwork and problem-solving as they navigate the Martian terrain. This can take place on the same day or on a future day of class.
4. Mars Habitat Rapid Design (1 hour):
Explore the concept of Martian colonization with a rapid design challenge. Students can use 3D printing to create miniature Mars habitats, considering the challenges of living on the Red Planet. This lesson encourages creativity and introduces real-world applications of technology in space exploration. Check out the MyStemKits “Home on the Moon” STEAM Design Challenge for inspiration.
5. Online Mars Exploration (1 hour):
End the day with an engaging online experience. Utilize virtual tours and simulations to transport students to the Martian surface, offering a captivating perspective on the landscapes studied. This interactive activity enhances the learning process with an immersive digital exploration of Mars.
As we celebrate Red Planet Day, let’s inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers with simple, engaging lessons. By incorporating 3D printing and robotics into our Mars-themed curriculum, we can create a memorable experience for students in every grade. Encourage curiosity and wonder that extends beyond the classroom walls with these engaging activities.
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