Project 1 Is there life on Mars?

STEM+C Projects

A Project-based STEM+Computing Inquiry

About

This project was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant Number 1640228. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Dazhi Yang at dazhiyang@boisestate.edu or use our Contact Form.

Description

This project-based scientific inquiry project: Is There Life on Mars? is centered on designing robots and testing them on a simulated Mars. In this project, students work in small groups to explore and research the existence of life on Mars. Then they design and develop robots to detect life on a simulated Mars. Students learn how to program related science and engineering concepts into the designing of robots using Mindstorms EV3 Legos. To develop computational thinking and an understanding of STEM subjects, students from 4th, 5th and 6th grade will work in small groups of six, with one in-service and one pre-service teacher, twice a week for eight weeks in a community centers after-school program.

Implementation

Please refer to the weekly activities (such as Week 1 Session 1 in the left sidebar and Resources from the sections below) for detailed information on how to use this project either in a classroom or an informal setting such as in community centers' after-school programs. The twice weekly sessions were originally designed to be 90 minutes in length, including a 10 minute break in the middle of the session. See photos of prior implementations on the projects' photo pages.


Week 3


Session 1
Questions

What does life looks like on Mars?

How to detect life on Mars?

How do we build a robot to detect life?


Goal

To understand the conditions for life on Mars

To understand water is the indication of life on Mars

To assemble the sensors on a robot


Activities

Research how life looks like on Mars and why water is an indication of life

To assemble a robot by following instructions


Resources

Internet Resources



Outcomes

Explanation of why water is an indication of life on Mars

A completely assembled robot

Session 1
Questions

How to program a Lego robot to move?

space

space


Goal

To explain how to sequence wires properly

To solve problems using Move Steering Block, Loop Block, and Sound Block


Activities

Write code using the Move Steering Block, the Loop Block, and the Sound Block

space


Resources

Worksheet 4

EV3 Software


Outcomes

A code using Move Steering Block, Loop Block, and Sound Block


How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


Entry Event 5 minutes

Teacher asks the follow questions to help students recall what they did/learned in the past weeks related to the topics about Mars.

1. What does Mars look like and what is the ground like on Mars? (red sand/dirt and rocks).

2. What is life?

3. What does life consist of?

4. How do we detect life on Mars? (Water is an indication of life on Mars)


How to detect life on Mars? Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 30 minutes

Students research about how to determine if life ever arose on Mars and how to detect life on Mars. They produce a group oral report or a PowerPoint Presentation on their research question(s).

Research Questions

What are the conditions needed for life to thrive?

How does NASA look for life on Mars?

Why is water an indication of life?

How do we use a robot to detect life on Mars?


Resources

NASA - Determine if Life Ever Arose on Mars

Scientists Now Certain There Is Water On Mars

Water on Mars

10 minute break

How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


How do we build a Lego robot to detect life? Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 30 minutes

Distribute laptops to the students.

Open up the instructions for robot building:

Students add sensors to the Lego robot by following the instructions:

Add Color sensor, steps 1-6

Add Touch sensor, steps 1-6

Add Ultrasonic sensor, steps 1-8

Finish building the robot – Gyro sensor, steps 1 - 9


Resources

Robot Building Instructions


End of Session Reflection and Debriefing 5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

What did I learn today?

What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?

How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


Entry Event 5 minutes

Teacher asks the follow questions:

1. What are some directions the Lego robot will move in a simulated Mars environment?

2. How does the Lego robot know when to make a turn?


How do you program your Lego robot to move and turn? Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 30 minutes

Directions

Distribute laptops and Worksheet 4 to the students.

Have students read the Problem as stated on Worksheet 4.

Have students research and explore relevant blocks needed to solve the problem on Worksheet 4.

Have a group discussion on the problem and possible solutions.

Have students test their solutions and debug.

If time permits, have students work on solving Problem b.

Have a group discussion on the problem and possible solutions for Problem b.

Collect the finished worksheets.


Resources

Worksheet 4 (Answer sheet can be found on the Resources page)

"Show EV3 Help" in the EV3 Software environment

Introduction to Programming - Lego Mindstorms EV3


End of Session Reflection and Debriefing 5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

What did I learn today?

What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today ?

How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?