Marc Anderson" />
side bar
Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Competitors explore Mars

UH is helping shape the next generation of scientists and engineers by hosting the seventh annual Mars Rover Celebration from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.

The all-day event held in the Houston Room, University Center offers elementary and middle school students across southeast Texas the opportunity to design, develop and build a model Mars rover.

Physics professor Edgar Bering came up with the idea for the event in 2002 while thinking of a way to engage more young students in science.

‘Per capita, the U.S. produces one-fourth the number of scientists as China,’ Bering said. ‘This is a real problem, and one that has to be addressed while the kids are still young. My own kids were building model rockets, so I figured – why not have all students do something similar?’

Additionally, students will have the opportunity to learn important aspects of research and scientific writing and meet UH and NASA scientists.

Bering said he wanted to design a program where cost was not a limiting factor so anyone could participate.’

‘We put a $25 limit on how much each team can spend. This ensures that no one can just outspend the others and at the same time spurs creativity,’ Bering said.’

Each team is comprised of four to eight students, and collaboration is strongly emphasized.

‘We try very hard to make sure all of the students take part … and that it really is the students who do the work,’ Bering said.

More than just model building, Bering said the event involves careful research and planning by the students.

‘The real key to the program is that the students have to design and select their own mission. They have to spend a good amount of time researching Mars and encounter a broad range of scientific disciplines,’ Bering said.’

To compete successfully, students should be familiar with the climate and geology of Mars, as well as learning certain aspects of mechanical engineering and robotics.

A volunteer panel of judges from UH and NASA’s Johnson Space Center selects the winners and awarded trophies to the first through fifth place finishers in both the elementary and middle school divisions.’

All participants receive a certificate and take part in an interview that goes towards making a video of the day’s events.’

‘We want to engage the kids as much as possible and make sure that everyone feels that they really participated,’ said Kim Usey, director of communication for UH Texas Learning and Computation Center.

In addition to the competition, students are given a tour of UH’s science departments.’

‘We’d love to see some of these same students decide to pursue engineering and science degrees at UH,’ Usey said.

Usey said she expects at least 15 area schools to participate this year, with some coming as far away as Galveston and Bryan school districts.

‘This really is a great opportunity for students to both learn about science and space exploration and have a great deal of fun at the same time,’ Usey said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑
  • Sign up for our Email Edition

  • Polls

    What about UH will you miss the least this summer?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...