Don't Panic: Students Have Until Dec. 7 to Enter UH Mars Rover Celebration

Model Design Competition Challenges Future Scientists, Engineers

In the 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” listeners went into panic at the prospect of Martians invading Earth. It’s hoped that cooler heads will prevail when Houston-area grade schoolers descend upon the University of Houston for the 2006-2007 Mars Rover Celebration. The deadline for entries has been extended to Thursday, Dec. 7.

A looming deadline and the Red Planet’s forbidding landscape aren’t the only challenges students in grades three through eight must face. While these future scientists and engineers are expected to create operational vehicles that can carry out a specific scientific mission on the surface of Mars, they must restrict themselves to found objects and minimal art supplies costing no more than $25 – a budget that would make any NASA administrator quake.

The annual competition takes place from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007, when the top three teams of students from 30 schools citywide will be given the chance to show off their models in the Houston Room of UH’s University Center. The event is open to the public.

Students were supplied with design criteria and had to complete basic research on Mars to accurately determine feasible operational and structural features for their rovers. In a previous three-hour workshop held at UH, teachers were trained to guide their students in building the models during six-week classroom-learning and homework projects about Mars.

This year, there also will be a UH Mars Rover booth for both students and teachers to get their questions answered Dec. 4-6 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Exploration Alley, the outreach area at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AIAA) Second Space Exploration Conference. The AIAA convention will address how to make visions for space exploration a long-term reality by meeting the challenges and addressing the decisions now needed in order to help define the United States’ space programs for decades to come.

For a UH Mars Rover Celebration entry form, visit or contact Edgar Bering, UH professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering, at or 713-743-3543.