by Michelle Mock
Imagiverse Educational Consortium, President
Implementing a robotics program with young children is not as difficult as it may sound. Teachers who believe in the natural abilities of the children can create an excellent program where their students can be successful. The objective of the MER REP (Mars Exploration Rover Robotics Education Program) is to give teachers an exciting alternative for teaching many of the elements in the regular curriculum. Imagine giving your students the opportunity to create a robot that they will send to another 'planet'. Imagine their curiosity when they receive photographic images from their rover and then embark on a discovery mission to organize those images and create a model of what they see. Imagine their excitement when they get to visit their rover in the alien environment and see for themselves how much of what they figured out was correct. Children are naturally curious and not afraid to try something new. They are creative, capable and never fail to amaze.
The MER REP program was developed for upper elementary and middle school students (approximate ages 9-15) but easily adaptable for younger students. The project is composed of four major activities: create a Martian landscape, build an exploration rover, image and map a landscape they have not previously seen and finally, create a scale model of the landscape they have imaged.
The key to success is the flexibility and adaptability of the program. What do you want your students to learn? What are they ready for? Where do you start? This article details the implementation of the program with two very different groups of children. The first group were 10 and 11 year olds (5th/6th grade) at Montessori School of Corona in Corona, California. The second group were 3 through 5 year olds (Pre-Kindergarten) at Montessori Children's House in Cypress, California.
As you read along, you will see how you can adapt the program to meet the needs of your students. If you have any questions or need help to get started at your school, write to: Imagiverse - Team
Brainstorming and Research
Designing the Landscape
Creating the Landscape
Painting the Landscape
Building the Rover
Kid Engineered Robotic Mars Explorers
JPL Open House
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