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Edible Mars Spacecraft

Adapted from Jean Settle's "Edible Rockets". In 1996 two spacecraft, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Pathfinder, were launched to Mars. These spacecraft are kicking off a decade long exploration of the Red Planet. Students can become familiar with the missions and the type of equipment on board each spacecraft through this activity.

Objectives

  1. Students will be able to identify two Mars spacecraft:
    a) Mars Global Surveyor
    b) Mars Pathfinder and the rover, Sojourner

  2. Allow students to design their spacecraft independently. This activity is designed to facilitate creative thinking. There are no right or wrong answers.

  3. Students will use creative thinking and problem solving skills to design either one or both of the above spacecraft using a supply of different foods.

What You Do

To begin the lesson, introduce students to the different Mars spacecraft. After finishing discussion, pass out the materials. The students need to decide which spacecraft they will construct with the materials provided. To minimize messiness students should use the waxed paper surface. Frosting can be distributed by placing a spoonful on each students' sheet of wax paper. Frosting can be used to "glue" pieces together.

  • Encourage students to use given materials to design all spacecraft and the rover.

  • Allow students to design their spacecraft independently. This activity is designed to facilitate creative thinking. There are no right or wrong answers.

  • To reduce cost of supplies try the following:
    - Assign each student to bring a different food item
    - Ask your PTO or Home School Association to provide funding for the activity.
    - Use cooperative learning and have one group of 3-4 students design all spacecraft with one set of materials.

Assessment

Students display and discuss their models. After completion, have students discuss strategies they used to design their spacecraft. This will allow them to share their problem-solving strategies. Ask students how this activity helped them learn more about the missions to Mars.


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  What You Need

Per Student Team:

  • 3 graham crackers
  • 1 roll of Smarties
  • 6 creme wafer cookies
  • 3 large marshmallows
  • 1 snack-size Kit Kat
  • 1 straw
  • 1 Peppermint Patty
  • 1 plastic knife
  • 6 Rolos
  • 7 toothpicks
  • 8 gumdrops
  • 1 sheet of 18"x12" waxed paper

For a class of 25:

  • scissors
  • 4 containers of frosting
  • paper towels
  • 25 copies of Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Pathfinder, and Sojourner handouts

 
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Handouts

Mars Global Surveyor Handout

Mars Pathfinder Handout

Mars Sojourner Handout