Pasco News

Students reach for Red Planet during Space Week

Space, the final frontier: these are the challenges students explored during recent Space Week science experiments at Seven Springs Middle School.

Teacher Ana J. Ulrich dressed the part to encouraged her students to embrace their inner science nerd.

“We call ourselves space nerds,” Ulrich said. “I try to teach the kids from day one that it’s cool to be a nerd.”

Her students built Rube Goldberg-type contraptions to simulate NASA’s landing vehicles for Mars rovers.

The Great Mars Rover Astro-Egg Drop posed a challenge: whether a fragile egg inside the students’ homemade gadgets could survive a drop off a second-story balcony. The impact would imitate the blow a Mars rover would take when the landing vehicle hit the surface of the Red Planet.

Students could use cardboard and other layers to cushion the blow for the egg, substituting in the role of a rover.

Splat went many of the contraptions on the hard concrete on the ground floor far below. Student inspectors then determined which contraptions had cracked up their precious cargo and which ones kept their contents unbroken.

Other classes tried different experiments, such as the Impact Crater Lab led by teacher Olga Hines.

Students hurled a rubber ball into a pan of flour to simulate asteroids pounding into the surface of the moon. The students carefully observed how the ball displaced the flour and how deep a hole left behind by the collision.

The class of teacher Amery Justus performed a vacuum chamber demonstrations. The class of Dawn Ennest put together a constellation lab.

“Kids really get into it and then they start following it at home,” Ulrich said about the Space Week activities inspired by the NASA Mars rover program. “They come in and learn all these new things that are happening in the news every day when it comes to space, It’s really great.”

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