Oak Hill Middle and Midland Trail High Schools team up for a “Mission to Mars”

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – A “mission to Mars”–that’s the STEM project Oak Hill Middle and Midland Trail High School’s higher-order thinking classes have been launching together over the past nine weeks.

Now, they’re wrapping up their hard work and seeing how well their rovers are doing as they make their way across a re-created Mars surface.

“The students researched, designed, constructed, launched, and landed a spacecraft to carry their “rovers” to Mars,” says Lynette Farr, the Higher-Order Thinking Skills teacher at Oak Hill Middle School.

But their work didn’t stop there; the students then had to construct surface maps and write computer programs to navigate the bumpy Mars terrain. ┬áThis presented them with similar kinds of challenges real-life rocket scientists face as they take on the red planet.

“It allows us to incorporate skills that we need to teach in our classroom anyways, but in such a real-world way,” Kennedy Moore says, the Higher-Order Thinking Skills teacher at Midland Trail High School.

“As we talk about the landing of the rover on Mars last February, then they’re able to practice those skills in a smaller scale in their own classroom,” she says.

Beyond the many skills the students are gaining from the experience, they also enjoy simply getting a chance to work together and see their project come to life.

“It was just a very fun project, imagining just what struggles we were having in class to try and work around the stuff, the struggles in Mars would be crazy,” says Natalie, an Oak Hill Middle School student participating in the project.

The students even got to virtually talk with an actual NASA educational specialist, adding to the real-life kind of Mars mission the students were given a chance to complete.

This was the first collaborative project staff and students at Midland Trail High and Oak Hill Middle Schools came together to do. They plan on doing more projects together again in the near future.

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