Bridging Earth and Mars (BEAM): Engineering Robots to Explore the Red Planet
Bridging Earth and Mars (BEAM): Engineering Robots to Explore the Red Planet engages the general public and K-8 students in exhibits and programs designed to foster awareness of robotic technology, computer programming, and the challenges and opportunities inherent in NASA missions and S-STEM careers. The Saint Louis Science Center (SLSC) of St. Louis, Missouri is the lead institution and project site; partners include Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis University, the St. Louis regional FIRST Robotics organization, and the Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis. Project goals are to: 1) inform, engage, and inspire the public to appreciate NASA’s Mission by sharing findings and information about NASA’s missions to Mars; 2) ignite interest in S-STEM topics and careers for diverse K-8 students; and, 3) encourage students in grades 6-8 to sustain participation in educational experiences along the S-STEM careers pipeline. The SLSC will design and build a Martian surface and panorama where two rovers can be remotely controlled. Visitors in the McDonnell Planetarium will use controllers to program rover exploration of the Martian landscape in real-time. Visitors in SLSC’s Cyberville gallery, located one-quarter mile away across a highway-spanning enclosed bridge, will program the second rover with simulated time lag and view its movements via a two-way camera system. SLSC will organize and host a series of Innovation Workshops for K-8 students, each featuring teamwork-building engineering challenges from current and updated NASA-based science curricula. Participants will be recruited from SLSC community partners, which include community centers and faith-based programs for underserved families.