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Enroute Bitterroot

Building Community: Lessons from Design Challenges

Jessica Anderson

On day 4 of International Space Camp, we continued to explore vulnerability. One thing I've learned from this adventure is that during times of susceptibility, we must reach out and seek support from a community. A community provides the strength we need to overcome the barriers we encounter. Today was one of those days!

Mars Rovers and X-Prize

In my classroom, I'm known for challenging students to think outside the box with a variety of design challenges. My favorites include Cutthroat Water Propelled Rockets and the Mars Sphero Rover Challenge. Today, I was on the other side of the directions; I was a learner navigating to "where the magic happens." 

In our first design challenge, we were tasked with designing a rover carrying a plastic egg. We could choose any supplies from the supply area to complete the task. After designing and building our rover, we launched it down a ramp and measured the distance of its excursion. We had some issues with it veering right (it was a back axel problem), but it did its job. The best part of this experience was working as a team with international teachers from Singapore and New Zealand. 

In the second design challenge, we applied the skills we learned from the Mars Rover Challenge. We were tasked with creating a lander (four members of my Kibo team) and a rover (four members of another Kibo group). To build the lander, we used skills similar to egg drop. The lander was required to carry a rover and an egg down to Mars. Like in the egg drop activity I do, we dropped the lander and cargo from a balcony in the Education Center. Luckily, the egg and rover survived with a little help from our knowledge of forces and free-body diagrams. Phew! We scored over 400 points on this challenge. Go team Kibo!

Mission Training

Today, Team Kibo conducted unofficial, official Lunar business; we conditioned for tomorrow's mission. On this mission, we will be tasked with putting four astronauts on the moon and bringing four home. Apparently, I've been living in space (haha) for six months and needed to hitch a ride home. Who knew? Check out the video below to see where I've lived. It's quite a tranquil place. I'll provide more information about the mission (failure or success) tomorrow. 

Multi-Axis Trainer (MAT)

I'm positive you've heard the advice "don't swim after eating," while someone needs to have a talk with Space Camp. No MAT after eating is just as important. Nevertheless, we put bravery on and tackled this contraption on a full stomach. It was a great experience! And, no, it didn't make me sick. You'll have to ask Jennifer Brown, 2016 Alabama Teacher of the Year, about sickness if you're curious. Check out my acrobatic moves below:

3, 2, 1, LAUNCH!


Yesterday we constructed rockets for an in-atmosphere mission. As you can see from today's video, rocket launching at Space Camp is not your ordinary launching experience. It includes explosives, high speeds, and requires big open fields. If you want to see my rocket almost hit a car, watch the video.

Hospitality and Exchange

In addition to the wonderful activities that have filled today, we continued the tradition of sharing gifts with one another this evening. The pin or memorabilia exchange is a real testament to the community we've created over the past year. However, this week, we've added new members to our family, our international colleagues. I hope by the end of the week we can all reflect on how we've embraced vulnerability while feeling safe in this community we've created together.