Week 8

Session 2

Guiding Question

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


  • Who (which team) is the fastest with detecting water on Mars? (Final Competition - Last Session)


  • Successfully program the robot to detect water on the simulated Mars

  • Articulate their strategy to program their robot for the final competition

CT Components


  • Students break a problem into parts to explore all objects or avoid all objects on the Mars simulation.


  • Students program the final robot using all of the movement and the sensors to explore Mars and figure out how to debug their programs.

Conditional Logic

  • Students use “if-then-else” logic to command the robot to explore the Mars simulation.

Simulation & Modeling

  • Students manipulate data through a controlled program for a solution and debug their codes when their programs do not work correctly.


  • Students discuss their strategies and codes with team members.

Student Post Survey

20 minutes

Have students fill out the post survey before the competition begins. Return the surveys to the researchers on site.

How can we detect life on Mars?

Competition Day (60 minutes)

The purpose of this contest is for the students to navigate and detect life on the Mars simulation with the final robots. The final robot must be the fastest and the most accurate to reach the finish line. Students will be able to combine what they have learned in the previous lessons to master the basics of robotics. Make sure all sensors are working and the final robot is moving and turning at the right speeds and directions.

Simulated Mars

Teacher announces the rules again.

Depending on students' progress, rules may be modified.

Finding Water on Mars Competition Rules:

Three runs for each robot (starting point as marked)

For each run, the robot will be placed in a specific location (marked in the photo above) with a specific heading/orientation. The water (green paper) will be placed in a known location, somewhere near the middle.

The robot will need to make a sound (whatever each team wants) when the robot finds the “water”.

The score for each run will be the amount of time it took to find the “water”. The times will be added together for the final score of each robot.

The maximum time for each run three minutes. If the robot doesn’t cooperate, for whatever reason, the team can pick it up, move it back to the starting position, and try again. Repeat this until the three minutes are up. The time will keep running until the robot finds the water (don’t reset the timer when they pick up and restart the robot) and that will be their score for that run. If the robot fails to find the water in three minutes, the maximum time is recorded.

The team with lowest time/score wins.


  • The Mars Simulation

  • Timer

  • Final Competition Evaluation Sheet

Competition Judging Criteria

The shortest time of the total three runs


Please help make sure all students' work/artifacts/journals are collected by the project team;

All students have completed a post survey at the end of the program

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?