Using Art and Wonder to Spark Interest in STEM

Have I mentioned lately that I’m the luckiest person on the planet? It’s true. I am part of a team that is building a Mars Rover Art Car.

The MRAC crew is building a fully functioning, larger than life replica of the Mars Rover, not only in homage to the real Rover, but also as an educational tool. The idea is to imitate Curiosity, by analyzing soil samples and broadcasting from the desert, and giving people a chance to see a Rover replica up close and have their questions answered by knowledgeable people who are enthusiastic fans of NASA and JPL.*  It will also be used to educate about permaculture and sustainability and to encourage thought about future colonization.

From the crew:

“Our mission is to spread knowledge about space, wonder about Mars, conscious thought of environmental impact on Earth, and spark interest in science, engineering, and art.

“While Burning Man is the first stop on our mission, we plan make appearances year-round at schools, science fairs, tech conferences, and environmental talks. Our dream is to provide tangible access to what humans dream of… space exploration, permaculture, sustainability, unity through community, and the strength of self-expression.”

The Mars Rover Art Car will have a fully functioning set of scientific instruments similar to those on the real Rover: robotic sampling arm, GPS tracking system, weather station, simulated crowd-sourced navigation, on-board cameras and sensors. The back of the Rover will feature a permaculture rocket stove which we will use to cook food, as well as using as an example of how to use energy virtually waste-free.

And it’s going to be fun! The debut event will be at Burning Man 2013. The MRAC crew is currently in the process of scheduling school visits, as well. Imagine the excitement for kids to climb on board and explore and learn, while taking a ride on a Mars Rover!

We’re currently up on Kickstarter, working on our last few days of fundraising. Please show your support for our project by donating and sharing our project: http://kck.st/ZEHLyt

And follow our progress on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MarsRoverArtCar

And twitter: http://Twitter.com/MarsRoverArtCar

*Disclaimer:  This is a citizen funded art car. Any employees of NASA or JPL who are working on this project do so on their own non-work time.

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