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Transporting Martian Samples: Using Engineering Design to Assess Thermal Energy Transfer, Forces, and Nature of Engineering

Science Scope—May/June 2024 (Volume 47, Issue 3)

By Isaiah J. Kent-Schneider, Bridgid Miller, Emma Marie, Jayme Scheck, Jerrid Kruse, and Dan Chibnall

Engineering activities often emphasize the practices of engineers, but can sometimes feel disconnected from content. This engineering design activity ties together multiple Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and explicitly addresses the nature of engineering (NOE). We help students connect the activity to authentic engineering through an activity wherein students design a capsule to transport samples from the surface of Mars back to Earth for NASA. Through this process, students define criteria for a successful design by contemplating the role of rovers and then design capsules by drawing on their knowledge of forces, motion, and thermal energy transfer. Finally, students test their designs and evaluate whether they met the criteria they set.

Engineering Physical Science Physics STEM

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