Exhibition draws big turnout at UH
Children from different schools came together for the eighth annual Mars Rover Model Celebration and exhibition held in the Houston room at the University Center on Saturday.
Around 500 students aged 8-14 attended from 32 different schools and displayed 444 models.
At the event, students learned about Mars while working in teams to plan a Mars mission. They then built a rover model to present and compete with other students.
“One rover is stuck right now in a Martian crater and we are worried it might not survive the Martian winter,” NASA employee Bob Taylor said. “The rover is at a low angle where it doesn’t get any solar light to its solar panels and two wheels aren’t working.”
Taylor, who has worked for NASA for 11 years, participated for the first time.
“This country has led the industry in innovation and kids need to study science, engineering and math to make sure that our products are better than the rest of the world’s,” Taylor said.
NASA had an astronaut suit on exhibition if students wanted to ask any questions.
Students were carrying their models and products with pride and ready to demonstrate to the judges that their rover wouldn’t get stranded on Mars.
The children absorbed the overall Mars experience by wearing astronaut suits and boots. Others had their faces painted in green and wore alien costumes.
At the event, Bryan Hernandez presented his “Cubs Explorer” whose mission is to dig for ice caps and find water.
“I want to find life on Mars, more carbon in the air so people can live there,” Hernandez said. “But there is too little carbon and we can not change the atmosphere.”
Every participant had to turn in a knowledge scavenger hunt at the end of the event. Students formed teams by school to answer questions.
“When we recognize each school at the podium, the team captain will turn in the scavenger hunt questions after giving them to their teachers, making sure they are complete,” physics professor Edgar Bering said. “There are four iPod Touches as prizes.”
A false fire alarm did not scare any child at the event — it was mostly the parents and teachers who were concerned. Parents seemed supportive of their children as they stood next to them.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to learn about science and technology,” parent Michael Nagel said.
“Kids are not only learning, but also having fun,” parent Pablo Jimenez said. “It is my first time participating and I think the Mars Rover event is great because my son is number one in his class and he likes science, math and airplanes. It took him two months to plan and one month to have the product ready.”
Various UH departments and programs exhibited educational booths like the Neighborhood Partnership Initiatives, Fennessey Ranch, Dedication to Education and Scholar Enrichment Program.