Mission to Mars: Teaching Space Exploration and Technology Through Low-Tech Rover Simulations

Tuesday 1:30pm-2:40pm
Share-a-thon Part of Tuesday


Lauren Neitzke Adamo, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Lauren Neitzke-Adamo, Rutgers University-New Brunswick


A brief description of how to conduct the activity and materials that can be used to connect it to NGSS and the current space missions of NASA.


Many misconceptions about Planetary Sciences and exploration still exist today despite the progress that scientists and engineers have made over the last 50+ years. Much of these advancements have occurred on Mars, especially with rovers such as Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. Capitalizing on the excitement of the next phase of exploration of the Moon through NASA's Artemis Missions and the future goal of humans reaching Mars, rovers represent the perfect opportunity to introduce planetary science in an innovative and playful way. Participants are introduced to concepts in planetary science, engineering, mission planning, planetary exploration, etc. through an interactive scenario maneuvering a rover on another planet from "mission control". This low-cost activity can be implemented without the use of advanced technology and the motion-based learning technique provides students with a hands-on experience on how Mars and other planetary exploration is and will be done in the future. It also gives participants the opportunity to analyze data, work together, and compromise to find the best solution for their mission, which will help to instill the fun of science into classroom and ultimately encourage the next generation of planetary scientists and engineers.


This activity is used in informal educational and classroom settings to begin conversations on planetary exploration and to start talking about the future of NASA's Artemis mission and the goal to land manned spaceships on Mars. Participants are asked to create a reflection of their experience with this activity and identify challenges they encountered that could simulate real life events.

Why It Works

This activity directly relates to exciting current and ongoing science that the best minds in the world are currently working on. Mankind's mission to colonize an extra terrestrial setting will require today's youth to become the scientists, engineers, and leaders who will participating in these ground breaking discoveries. This activity asks students to analyze data in a quick paced real world setting while also incorporating scientific knowledge.