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 6


Session 1
Questions

How can we program our robot for detecting water on the Mars simulation?


Goal

To devise strategies to help robot navigate on the Mars simulation

To write code based on the strategy

To debug when the programs run into trouble


Activities

Program the robot to navigate on the Mars simulation and detect water


Resources

Mars simulation


Outcomes

Codes for Lego robots to explore Mars simulation

Session 2
Questions

How can we program our robot for detecting water on the Mars simulation?


Goal

To devise strategies to help robot navigate on the Mars simulation

To write code based on the strategy

To debug when the programs run into trouble


Activities

Program the robot to navigate on the Mars simulation and detect water


Resources

Mars simulation


Outcomes

Codes for Lego robots to explore Mars simulation

How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


Entry Event 10 minutes

Teacher asks the follow questions:

1. What are some of the strategies you use to avoid obstacles?

2. What are some of your strategies to debug?


How can we program our robot to detect water on the Mars simulation? Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 55 minutes

Directions

Display a photo of Mars simulation on screen and distribute laptops.

Students write down how they would command the robot to detect water from different starting points (strategy) in their note book.

Students share their strategy with their group and identify a best strategy in the group.

Students convert their strategy into codes.

Check students' progress and facilitate the students' thinking process.

Depending on students' thinking style, there are two ways to approach the problem: 1) Work on the overall logic first (how to determine which starting point the robot is at. Hint: Using If-then logic and the Switch Block); 2) Work on the specific point first (what the robot will do at the specific starting point)

If students have problems creating the strategy, have students write a strategy for a specific starting point to begin with.


Resources

"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?

How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


Entry Event 10 minutes

Teacher asks the follow questions:

1. What are some of the strategies you use to avoid obstacles?

2. What are some of your strategies to debug?


How can we program our robot to detect water on the Mars simulation? Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry 55 minutes

Directions

Display a photo of Mars simulation on screen and distribute laptops.

Students write down how they would command the robot to detect water from different starting points (strategy) in their note book.

Students share their strategy with their group and identify a best strategy in the group.

Students convert their strategy into codes.

Check students' progress and facilitate the students' thinking process.

Depending on students' thinking style, there are two ways to approach the problem: 1) Work on the overall logic first (how to determine which starting point the robot is at. Hint: Using If-then logic and the Switch Block); 2) Work on the specific point first (what the robot will do at the specific starting point).

If students have problems creating the strategy, have students write a strategy for a specific starting point to begin with.


Resources

"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?

Session 1

Simulation of Mars

"Show EV3 Help" in the EV3 Software environment.

Introduction to Programming - Lego Mindstorms EV3

Session 2

Simulation of Mars

"Show EV3 Help" in the EV3 Software environment.

Introduction to Programming - Lego Mindstorms EV3