An out of this world project is going on with our eighth graders in the Cardinal Middle School PHabLab! Students have been working hard in technology class to assemble Mars rovers (similar to the one on Mars now, just much smaller) in class.

Students are working in groups, following the steps to assemble the rovers in their “Gaining Traction on Mars” kits from Palmer Hamilton. Once assembled, students then explore and study how the rover navigates over a “plain surface” (i.e. the floor) versus a simulated Martian landscape of sand and rocks. Students are tasked with timing how long their rover takes to go a measured distance on the floor, with and without weight, and then they do the same in the Martian landscape. Students record their findings and then decide how to change their rover so it navigates the Martian landscape better. (Spoiler alert – the first set of wheels had a lot of rovers getting stuck in the sand and rocks in the Martian landscape quickly.)

The classes are keeping track of their data for a friendly competition between the teams to see which rover can go the furthest in the various settings. In addition to constructing the rover and testing its speed, velocity, friction and torque, students are also using the skills they’ve learned on the Cricut to create custom bumper stickers for their rovers!

Technology teacher Mrs. Mandi Matchinga says she is impressed with the work students have done and the solutions they’ve come up with to try to improve their rovers. Great work everyone!



CMS eighth graders Brenna S. and Nicholi M. time their rover to see how quickly it travels a measured distance over sand and rocks. Students will use their findings to then redesign their rover to see if the new design gets better results.



CMS eighth graders Brooklyn J., Ryan M., and Hunter L. prepare their rover to travel across a simulated Martian landscape of sand and rocks. Students will time how long it takes the rover to travel a measured distance and then determine how to redesign the rover so it goes faster.


CMS eighth graders Chester B. and Reese S. work together to construct a Mars rover from the “Gaining Traction on Mars” kit from Palmer Hamilton.