This idea all began with the curriculum I am not fond of. However, there was a speech by John F. Kennedy. His speech "Remarks at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center". A wonderful speech to introduce the Space Race.
After students understood what the Space Race was all about, we then proceeded to read JFK's speech. We read it a couple of times. The first to truly hear his words. The second to disect his speech and the third to break down JFK's argument. As any educator knows, one can't simply read JFK's speech. One must experience his passion by listening to it. So the next day, that's what we did. We listened to his last speech given. Students picked up upon his passion and how important his mission to the moon truly was. They perfered JFK's reading to mine. First time for everything!
After listening to JFK and researching, discussing, and sharing the Space Race and what it's done for the United States and where NASA has done today, I took the students of the Duck Pond to Mars. Using Google Expeditions of course! Students were in awe of Mars and what it really looks like. We looked at the rover, Curiosity, and the images it captured. And since students had done their research, they knew what they saw was back in 1997.
Then, crazily enough, President Trump signed "the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, which sets a $19.5 billion budget for the agency for fiscal year 2017" (Space.com) with the mission to get Americans to Mars by 2030. This was amazing news and fit perfectly with our next task: argumentative writing.
Students read and researched the pros and cons of people being allowed to own property in space. We discussed as a class, held a debate, looked at resources I gave, as well as ones students discovered. It was so cool to hear the passion behind their arguments!
To finish our space unit, I found a Sphero Mars Rover lesson on Sphero's Lightening Lab. After all the talk about getting to Mars, well NASA, of course, needs a new rover! I set up the parameters using Prezi and discussed the Engineering Design Process, shared a Google Slides template for students, and let them go!
It was amazing to see student's creative process. Most students started driving the Spheros to get the hang of the robots. Then each group tested Sphero in the Mars Simulation Area. Because Sphero is a, well, sphere, it does not travel well in sand. So what would they do?
Most went straight into the building process. I can't blame them. Building and creating is the best part! Students came up with some pretty interesting ideas. From paper, rubber bands, rolls to wrap the Sphero in, and so much more to aid our Spheros in Mars. At the end of the project, I assigned a reflection where most students mentioned that they should have done more research about the best ways to move across the sand and rocky areas.
Overall, Sphero Rovers were a HUGE success! Students would have liked more time, but liked the process and use of the robots.
I can't wait to improve upon this unit and expand our use of Spheros in the classroom.
Student project 2
Student project 3