Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Edible Mars Rovers

As I mentioned, this is the month when we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the landing of the Mars Exploration Rovers on the Red Planet. In honor of this occasion, I've got a fun activity you can try. This is good for kids 3 and up (younger if you are really adventurous) and has been enjoyed by many adults as well. You can read one of many lesson plans at this link, or get adventurous and Google it yourself for lots of variations.

Ingredients (per rover):
  • 3 graham crackers
  • 1 roll of Smarties
  • 6 Nilla-style wafer cookies
  • 3 big marshmallows
  • 1 snack-size Kit Kat
  • 2 snack-size peppermint patties
  • 1 straw (preferably bendy)
  • 1 knife
  • 6 Rolos (wrapped individually if possible)
  • Toothpicks
  • 8 gumdrops
  • Frosting
  • Damp washcloth standing by
Assemble the above ingredients to form something that looks like a robot. The frosting makes a good glue to hold all your constituent parts together. Remember that wrappers are just as important as the candies in them, especially the shiny ones. You can spend as much time as you like discussing what instruments you've created (maybe the bendy straw is the Rock Abrasion Tool or a Nilla wrapped in the Rolo foil is the high-gain antenna). You can keep the grahams whole or break them up. I like to keep one whole and then break one up into the little rectangles and use two of these as the solar panels. In case you aren't completely familiar with the Mars Exploration Rovers and their many parts, here's a diagram (click on it for larger image):

For healthier rovers:
Feel free to use alternate ingredients. You can use cream cheese as the glue, carrot wheels, celery sticks, banana slices, pretzel sticks, you name it. I personally prefer the candy one, but I would not intentionally allow my child to ingest that much sugar, so I won't tell you to either.

Photo credit Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

1 comment:

dkary said...

It's obvious that NASA is missing a bet in not having you on their spacecraft engineering team: biodegradable spacecraft!
Joann agrees that the design is a winner.