August 18, 2020 | Build Challenge, Countdown to Mars, Mars2020, Minecraft: Education Edition
July 2020 saw the launch of NASA’s Perseverance Rover, a historic next step in humanity’s exploration of Mars. Due to land in February 2021, Perseverance will introduce fresh innovations to the planet’s study, including the first device for powered flight on Mars, the Helicopter Ingenuity. It will also set the stage for one of the most ambitious projects to date: the return of Martian samples to Earth!
We wanted to give students the chance to take part in the excitement, so we challenged them to create their own Mars rovers. We encouraged learners to consider the scientific questions their Mars rovers would answer, then design tech solutions for their own constructions. What’s the weather like? Can you grow crops? Was there ever water on the planet’s surface? What data will you need to collect to answer these questions? Who knows: one of these students might grow up to provide a key design for future Mars missions or even set foot on the Red Planet themselves! Almost all of our builds this month came from India, whose own Mars Orbiter Mission has provided some of the most breathtaking images of the planet to date. Let’s take a look at the builds from these emerging space engineers…
Piyush Bhange built a large and impressive rover, including many tools and features designed to help it survive and conduct research on Mars. With stabilizing wheels, solar panels, and a shovel-arm packed with instruments, this vehicle is ready for anything. It even has a sound recorded to deliver our first audio from the Martian landscape!
We’re thrilled at the number of students who took the initiative to take these challenges on their own. Young edtech pro Namya Joshi showed off her build in a video and paid particular attention to the optical equipment. A picture is worth a thousand words—especially when it’s transmitted over 50 million miles! Namya’s video also showcases the kind of learning that’s possible with a Build Challenge. She begins by describing the research and learning she’s undertaken in order to design her rover, then continues to a description of her build.
Mrunal Ganjale‘s student Sharvil shared a video that demonstrates how he accomplished his build. This rapid-fire timelapse demonstrates just how much effort goes into a Minecraft creation. Between its cameras, transparent instrument-packet, and durable building materials, this rover looks fantastic!
Fifth-grade student Varad Hemant Pawar shared photos of his Mars rover from a few different angles. Varad decided to make some modifications to the conventional rover design, including a large, glassed-in section that will definitely benefit the vehicle’s visual instruments.
I have taken this challenge and build this month's #BuildChallenge celebrates the launch of @NASA's Perseverance Rover,due to land on Mars in 2021. And I create my own rover in @PlayCraftLearn #MinecraftEdu @MicrosoftEdu https://t.co/1LTtx8rsM0 pic.twitter.com/iWuXMglXRT— Varad Hemant Pawar (@VaradHemantkum1) July 23, 2020
I have taken this challenge and build this month's #BuildChallenge celebrates the launch of @NASA's Perseverance Rover,due to land on Mars in 2021. And I create my own rover in @PlayCraftLearn #MinecraftEdu @MicrosoftEdu https://t.co/1LTtx8rsM0 pic.twitter.com/iWuXMglXRT
— Varad Hemant Pawar (@VaradHemantkum1) July 23, 2020
Goh Kok Ming’s students in Malaysia envision a time when humanity is well-established on Mars. These learners chronicle a hypothetical journey to the planet, right from the beginning. They depict the voyage in stages, from Earth to an orbital space station, and from there to Mars! Once you’ve arrived, you’ll see not just a Mars rover equipped with Redstone mechanisms, but also a series of structures designed to facilitate long-term habitation on the planet.
Chinmay Jagga’s build included a look at his process, his design ethos, and the finished product. He also thought carefully about his rover’s delivery system, building a landing place for deployment and even balloons to control its descent to the Martian surface. Every step of the way is important when you’re traveling between planets!
Deepak Bhange shared his son Punit’s visual rover tour. This vehicle is large and impressive, with a lengthy array of solar panels along its back, elevated instruments for collecting data, and giant wheels for tackling any terrain.
Last but not least, Sherlyn took on the challenge by echoing NASA’s strategy, which includes both a land-based rover and an airborne ranger. The rover includes a Redstone torch to light its way and an elevated instrument cluster. The ranger sits a short distance away, waiting to explore the wider Martian landscape…
We were impressed by all of these builds, and we’re eager to see what these young minds grow up to create as we advance toward our next horizon of space exploration.
Inspire your students to design creative builds on a variety of subjects. Explore more build challenges here. If you’re new to Minecraft: Education Edition and want to bring game-based learning into your teaching, get started at education.minecraft.net.
Read Next: Highlights from the 2020 Minecraft Education Challenge
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