Mars Safari was an exciting project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering that aimed to inspire girls about engineering and science. STEM Ambassadors with an engineering background worked with Girlguide units in East Kent to share their skills, passion and expertise and help each pack build at least one Mars Rover.
In teams the girls built and tested their own Mars Rovers from a basic kit and on June 29th and 30th the girls bought their completed Mars Rovers to the Mars Safari Challenge Day where they took them across an exciting Mars Safari Challenge course representing the surface of ‘Mars’.
The whole event took place in the grounds of Canterbury Christ Church University. On the journey the teams visited a number of interesting places such as Olympus Mons and asteroid impact craters. At various stations their rovers were required to perform tasks: for example, drill for a soil sample, light up the dark, use a Mars quake detection with a seismometer, build a solar panel, as well as pick up and bring home a Martian rock.
These activities all enabled the girls to learn about STEM through practical and fun experiments.
Some of the feedback from the guide leaders (GL), guides and brownies (P) and STEM Ambassadors (SA) is below:
- It’s been a great event, very well organised, well signposted, friendly volunteers, staff. Children absolutely loved it! (GL)
- Encourage curiosity and an open-mind. Make learning fun and keep enthusiasm. (SA)
- Stimulate interest in science. I learnt stuff about Mars I didn’t know before.(P)
- This event has helped show young girls the vast opportunities in areas of STEM.(GL)
- Showed the fun side of learning (P).
- It’s nice to have more professionals to lead activities our leaders may not feel qualified to run. Going on a uni campus helps inspire young people to aspire to uni level education and beyond.(GL)
- It was a great activity. The guides really enjoyed it. They could relate the activity with the lecture they had attended earlier. This is a great event. Should be done more often.(GL)
- Girls have expressed an interest in science. One brownie no longer wants to be a teacher, and wants to be a scientist.(GL)
- It has been rewarding to see the joy and penny drop when the young people learn something new about space/engineering and science.(SA)
- I like doing lots of little activities – keeps it interesting! (P)
- Introducing engineering to the next generation is very important as there will be a skill shortage if current trends continue.(P)
- A brownie cancelled her piano lesson to come today.(GL)
- Short, succinct learning experiences maintain their attention. They ended up leaning many aspects of STEM – gives them a feel for the fun of STEM (SA)