Recently, our MYP Grade 8 Design Class took on the gargantuan task of designing a landing module for a Mars mission, though that may not have been apparent to the casual observer… 

In small groups, Grade 8 students have investigated, designed, created, and tested a model of a possible landing module that could safely deploy its payload (simulated by an egg) to the surface of Mars. The unit allowed for extensive problem solving and collaboration.

“Since we worked together on our projects, we learned a lot about how to work in a group and share our ideas to try to create a design that didn’t break the egg. The teamwork was a good experience.”
–Eleanor, Grade 8

Students will understand that looking at existing ideas that have been tried and tested can lead to ‘better’ or more innovative solutions through an inquiry into how we can land a space module onto the surface of another planet.

Students develop sound reasons for and against space exploration and analyse several failed and successful missions to deploy modules to other planets or moons. Through this, they can develop their own set of criteria based on the restraints given to design and create their own Mars Landing Module (MLM). The testing phase allows students working collaboratively together to make appropriate modifications before the final ‘Egg Drop’ competition to decide which group is awarded the contract from SMEg (Save My Egg) for the building of the MLM for the mission to Mars.

The evaluation allows students to thoughtfully reflect on their designs and suggest improvements while at the same time revisiting the question of the necessity of space exploration or otherwise through looking at how they would advise the colony to be set up in light of our mistakes or issues here on Earth.