Week 1

Session 1

Part 1

Guiding Question

  • Guiding How can we detect life on Mars using a robot


  • N/A


  • N/A

CT Components

  • N/A


5-10 minutes

Teacher introduces the project: "In the next eight weeks, we will explore life, Mars, and learn how to design, build, and test a robot to detect life on a simulated Mars. Can anyone tell us what you know about Mars? (Thank you for your sharing... now lets start to explore Mars...) Before we start our exploration, let’s watch this video: How to get to Mars. (Watch this video from 0 to 5s, can fast play before 2min 57s if needed.)

The Problem

10 minutes

Teacher introduces the problem to students:There will be a competition at the end of this program. During the competition, robots need to find water in a simulated Mars environment.

The robots need to move from the starting points, avoid the rocks, and find the water. The robot that finds the water in the least amount of time will win the competition. The group who designs the winning robot will get a prize. Throughout the next few weeks, you will learn about what life consists of, what the environment on Mars looks like, how to build a Lego Mindstorms robot, and how to make the robot move and find water.

Problem Solving Process

We will be using a problem solving process to tackle the problem of "how can we detect life on Mars using a robot". How do you usually solve a problem? (Have several students answer this questions before moving on).

Now look at the problem solving process diagram. Can you see how your problem solving steps map onto this diagram? Let's discuss the steps we will go through to be able to solve a problem systemically. We will use these steps to achieve our mission.

Team Building

15 minutes

Some possible activities (Use any team-building activity appropriate for the age level):

  • Self-introduction in the team: name and what are you good at

  • Select a team name

  • Design a team logo

  • Identify roles for each team member for the mission of "Detecting Life on Mars."

10 minute break

Part 2

Guiding Question

  • How can we detect life on Mars using a robot?


  • What does life consist of?


  • A group oral report on what does life consist of? (choose one representative to report or report one by one); or a group written report depending on time.

CT Components

Data Collection

    • Student collect data on different forms of life.


  • Students capture common characteristics of life on earth into one set that can be used to represent other form of life on another planet.


  • Student present their findings on forms of life.

Entry Event

5 minutes

A teacher asks, “What is life?” and shows the students pictures of a person, dog, lobster (form of life); PAUSEs and asks “do you think they are a form of life? ”;

Next, showing students pictures of a tree, fruit, mushroom, coral (form of life); PAUSEs and asks “do you think they are a form of life?”;

Then, showing students pictures of a rock, metal, pencil (not a form of life); PAUSEs and asks “do you think they are a form of life?;

Finally, showing students a picture of a cell, virus, fungus and other forms of microorganism (form of life and leads students to think beyond the life forms they normally can see and observe); PAUSEs and asks “do you think they are a form of life?;

Ask student to have a hypothesis of what life is and then set out to test their hypothesis through research.

What does life consist of?

Small-group Hands-on Scientific Inquiry (20 minutes)

Students research about life, forms of life, and conditions for life, They answer the question and produce a group report on this research question; they need to take notes on the important facts and knowledge they found during their research (need to discuss the individual roles and the rotation of role in this process)

Student Pre-Survey

20 minutes

Students fill out the pre- survey in the first session to establish the baseline data. The researchers will prepare the surveys. Teachers will collect the completed surveys and return the surveys to the researchers on site.

End of Session Reflection and Debriefing

5-10 minutes

Teacher briefly explains the computational thinking (CT) skill embedded in the Problem Solving Process Diagram. Using the problem solving process diagram, the teacher will ask students to identify what kind of problem solving skills/process/computational thinking they used in this session and explain how they used it. The following are some sample questions that can guide the debrief.

  • What did I learn today?

  • What problem solving skills/processes or CT components in this diagram did I use today?

  • How did I use the problem solving skills/processes/CT components?