Kids’ Science Challenge: Mars – Prototype
Music; Ambience: basketball game
JM: Imagine what sports would be like on Mars. That’s the question we asked 3rd to 6th-graders in this year’s Kids’ Science Challenge competition. The winning idea was a Martian version of basketball, complete with magnets, lasers, and Martian metallic soil. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Tyrone Hutchinson of Lyons, New York, dreamed up Magnetic Soil Ball, and we sent him to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where engineer Kobie Boykins worked with Tyrone to see if they could come up with of prototype of the idea.
TJ: “What kind of sensors do you use?”
KB: “I think the best thing to use would be some type of proximity sensor. As you get close to the hoop, let’s say that the hoop had lasers on it. And it would shoot the laser at the ball, and the ball would actually sense the laser hitting it, and that would say, okay, turn off the power to the electro-magnet, and then it would let go of the dust.”
JM: In Tyrone’s game, players dribble a magnetic ball in the iron-rich Martian soil, and then they shoot the ball into a dust-collecting basket. The first team to fill the basket with magnetic soil wins the game.
KB: “We’re here in what we call our Mars Yard. And we’re doing actually the game that Tyrone came up withthe ball itself that had collected this magnetic dust would dump the dust into a bucket. We talked about the ball being an electro-magnet. It had a large magnetic field so it could pick up the dust. And that as the ball went through the hoop, there would be some type of sensor on the hoop, maybe a laser grid that as the ball went through it would say, ooh, I’ve broken the field of the rim. I should turn off the electro-magnet, and that would release the dust. And the game would be won by filling up a bucket with dust, so the team that had the most dust would actually win the game.”
KB: “Your job is going to be to hit that button. Now, this is going to simulate what we’re doing on the surface. So now, okay, go ahead and push it, and hold it down. See how it yanked up the magnet?”
KB: “Now, when it goes through the basketgo ahead and let gothat’s how it will let go of the dust.”
To learn more about the Kids’ Science Challenge, check out kidsciencechallenge.com.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.