Mars Rover Party

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For my son’s third birthday, we held a Curiosity the Mars Rover Party. My son loves geology and robotics and the Mars rover theme let him share his excitement for them both with his friends.

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In advance of the party, my son and I made Mars Rover costumes that he designed. They are white t-shirts that he dictated to me how to draw the various rover components that he rovers that he liked best, such as lasers and sample analyzers. As they arrived, each child was given an identical rover shirt and headlamp (as working lasers or cameras depending on the child’s imagination).

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The night before the party, it rained unexpectedly. So instead of making the yard into Mars, we turned the living room into Mars. My mom and I ran to the thrift store and bought everything red or brown in the bedding section. We washed it all and staged the living room as “Mars.” My husband borrowed a projector from work and projected a landscape of Mars along the rear wall of the living room. The pictures don’t do it justice. It was a rainy day and the kids really imagined they’d landed on Mars.

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The children were given a brief explanation of how the Mars Rovers explore Mars  geology by taking rock samples and photographs and sending data back to Mission control.  Then the kids ran around the living room collecting rocks on “Mars” and bringing them to “Mission Control” for analysis. At “Mission Control” my parents had a table set-up with a key and some information about the rocks that the kids were finding. It was like an Easter egg hunt, only instead of eggs the kids were collecting rocks and learning about them. The huge antennae was a pretend parabolic dish antennae for collecting the signals from the rovers.

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We had hidden a set comprised of four types of rocks: obsidian, granite, pumice and basalt. There was a key for them at mission control for the kids to match their rocks to. By the end of the party, most of the kids could accurately recognize those types of rock.

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Some of the kids got curious about what the rocks looked like inside, so my mom (a retired science teacher) took out chisel, hammer and safety goggles. One at a time, the children who were interested got to crack open various rocks that they collected so she could talk about them in a little more depth.

15941333_10154628782095020_5876123403596030789_n.jpegI baked a Curiosity the Mars Rover cake. It was red and chocolate marble cake inside with chocolate icing and decorated with Mars rocks (a variety of chocolate candy and crumbled cookies as rocks) and Curiosity on top.

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The “little rovers” also got to play with and eat homemade chocolate gears dusted with gold luster-dust.

After cake, we used the projector to show the kids a video about Mars rovers landing on the surface of Mars. Then they had a chance to build their own rovers out of Legos and try to land them safely. We put out an array of balloons, tape, parachutes, coffee filters etc. and we let them experiment with it for a while.

Building the rovers:

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Testing the landing gear:

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I have no photographs of my favorite part. Right at the end of the party, when all of the kids understood what the game was about, they used a blanket was a part of the Mars staging as a tent and they had a lively game of pretending to be Mars rovers.

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Very tired rovers resting on Mars… Little rovers were sent home with their costumes, a bag of mars rocks that they’d collected and a link to more Mars Games for home.

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I spent the afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my family. I did a little sketching with Zev (now 3yo) while we were there. He is particularly fond of jellyfish at the moment. I lost my paintbrush and only had his kids paints with so I was mostly finger painting. It was still fun though to compare different fish in the kelp exhibit.

Kids Art Congress

header2Ever have too much kids art? Not sure what to do with it? Send it to Congress!

I’ve started a new art project. Join me in creating positive civic engagement through art. It’s simple! We are decorating postcards with art and mailing them to our representatives. If you want to learn new art skills, make new friends, and teach our kids how to constructively participate in civics come join me!

KidsArtCongress.com                                Share your art on Twitter at #KidsArtCongress

Three Aquatic Robots

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Inspired by the ‘squid tickler’ attachment to the Doc Rickets ROV:
(to the tune of three blind mice)
Three aquatic robots, Three aquatic robots,
See how they swim, See how they swim,
They all chased after a jellyfish, They wanted to see if it would squish,
It made a sound like a “Ker-splish”
Three aquatic robots, Three aquatic robots.

15226576_10154355232234690_1511076796_n.jpegThanks to Philip (from Denmark) and his family for sending in a picture of their lunar lander! It’s great to see other families exploring science topics that interest them. Maybe, there are some future astrobiologists out there!

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It’s time to share your results! Send us examples of experiments that you’ve conducted. Next week, I’ll post an assortment of the results. Please include a 1-2 sentence description of your experiment, an image of your results, the age of the researcher and your location (City, State). Email them to WalkaboutEm@gmail.com.

I look forward to seeing what everyone came up with!