Skip to content ↓

LSST students win the Mars Rover Challenge.

On Tuesday 17th April a group of eleven Year 8 pupils went to Cambridge University for the ‘Mars Rover Challenge’ held at the world famous Cavendish Laboratory.

During the morning, we were given a tour of two different colleges that make up the university, Fitzwilliam and Churchill. The different histories of the two institutions was fascinating, one being developed in the garden of Charles Darwin’s widow, Emma, and the other being founded by Winston Churchill after the second world war.

We then walked across to the Cavendish Laboratory for lunch and a guided tour of the Science Museum there.  Here we saw examples of the equipment designed at the end of the 19th Century to unify electric and magnetic theories and to discover the first sub-atomic particles. There was even a working cloud chamber where we could see the traces left by alpha particles and gamma radiation.

After lunch we began the Mars Rover challenge, where we had to design and make a rocket shell, a Mars rover, a landing craft and a spectroscope. We worked as a team, competing with groups from two other schools, trying to make sure each of our different components were suitable for their particular purpose. After a number of redesigns and modifications taking over two hours, we were finally ready for testing.  The rover had to drive over deep sand and small boulders and then over a separate rocky terrain.  Our large diameter wheels with added friction from rubber bands allowed our rover to complete both courses; the only vehicle to do so out of the three groups. The rocket was then tested in a wind tunnel, where a smoke trail showed how the air moved over the surface of the vessel. Finally our landing craft was tested with an accelerometer, where we were trying to minimise the forces on landing. Our craft, together with its parachute, soft nose-cone and securing foam straps won this particular round as well. When all the results were in The Priory Academy LSST were the overall winners of the challenge, and all the team members received a prize.  It was the perfect end to a really interesting and enjoyable day.