High school sophomore campers building Mars Rovers had the opportunity to test them under NASA sponsorship near the Canyon Ferry Reservoir in Montana.
The camp was for high school students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The robots that were build by the dozen students were smaller than the real one ton rovers on the Martians surface, but they were programmed to move, avoid obstacles, and take pictures of rock samples.
The hands-on experience lasted for three days, as a culimnation of an online course from the University of Washington. For the first tiime, the Western Aerospace Scholars program was offered to sophomores in Montana. The director of the Montana Learning Center, Ryan Hannahoe, is is a Clancy Elementary School teacher with a background in aerospace. He helped host and run the camp.
The impact of NASA research on all aspects of society was impressive to Jasmine Wilkerson, a student from Helena who wants to study medicine. The textiles that form airbag cushions for the rovers is super strong with earthly applications.
“The same fabric, which is woven with steel, is now used as body armor for law enforcement officers,” Wilkerson said. “The taxes and funding that go towards NASA contribute so much more than just putting people in space.”