Pleasant Grove Elementary takes students to Mars

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Students at Pleasant Grove Elementary School recently got a chance to participate in something that was, in a manner of speaking, out of this world.

L. to r.: Ethan Miller and Sean Dotson stand in front of a green screen at the recent summer STEM Immersion workshop. They created a video log of their experiences on “Mars” during the camp. A space background was added in the videos. Special photo

The school hosted a summer STEM Immersion workshop June 15, featuring a simulation of a Mars exploration. The workshop was designed to give students exposure to STEM professions through experiments, coding and digital problem solving. Students entering first through fourth grades were involved in a series of experiments throughout the day.

STEM is an acronym for “Science, Technology, Engineer-ing, and Math.” Students in the school’s STEM Camp were divided into two rooms, with stations located inside each room, with stations providing details about tools used for digital problem solving.

The Mars Exploration room housed the robotics and the 3D printer stations. The latter featured a live demonstration using the Dremel 3D printer, where students learned modeling and designing for successfully printing an object, such as the STEMTank’s housing and tracks. At the robotics stations, participants learned how circuits connect, and how data is shared between robots and the electronic devices controlling them.

Camp staff selected the Mars-themed room, which coincided with the Mantis-prepared curriculum and technology. The students were able to maneuver the Mantis STEMBot and STEMTank, and they also were challenged to see who would clock the best time in the race to Mars.

In the other room used for the activity, organizers designed three stations to engage the students as much as possible. The Scratch station, gave the kids the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of drag-and-drop coding, as they played Scratch that is designed to work with Mantis sensors.

Another station enabled the students to learn more about the atmosphere on Mars. The kids were taught about the three basic degrees of measuring temperature, and they also compared water temperatures to identify which ones would best resemble Mars clouds. Upon learning about the icy water clouds on Mars, the students were able to identify ice water and ice as the best comparison.

The last station allowed students to prepare for a Martian greenhouse, in which they could use a Mantis temperature probe and climate sensor to regulate light and water, in order to ensure that plants would receive the right amounts.