A gifted and talented program had kids build a simulated Mars landing at school, landing homemade vessels on a map of the red planet. The large map was spread out in the school gymnasium, taking up nearly half the floor.

Kids Build a Simulated Mars Landing at SchoolAt Wayne Trail Elementary School in Maumee, Ohio, fourth and fifth graders built Mars landers using balloons, small items for payload, and other objects. The goal was to land the object on target without tipping over.

“Their payload was a marble, so that was the overall safety they needed to land,” said Danielle Pickle, elementary gifted and talented teacher. “They were very creative the way they did it. Everybody’s was a little different.”

Coffee filters were used as parachutes. “We put three balloons together with bubble wrap and a bunch of coffee things,” said fourth grader Logan Simok. “We knew the balloons would slow it down and we needed the weight to even it out.”

The detailed map of Mars was supplied by the Buzz Aldrin ShareSpace Foundation. It is the only map of its kind in Ohio.

“Students know they’re in a safe environment where it’s OK to make mistakes,” said Ms. Pickle. “They really grow themselves by learning what they need to fix and being able to use that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics all together.”

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