Suggested Searches

Glenn EDC – Gaining Traction on Mars

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.


Using the engineering design process, students will work in engineering design teams to create and test various wheel designs and materials on a standard test vehicle to determine which are most effective on a simulated Martian surface. To understand how the test vehicle operates, students will explore the inner-workings that make-up the rover through four lead-up investigations.

Supporting Science Investigations:

  1. Racing Against Friction – Test materials for the effects of friction.
  2. Stacked for Power – Build a battery and measure its output.
  3. Charged Attraction – Build an electromagnet and measure its attractive capabilities.
  4. Fine Motor Skills – Build an electromagnetic motor and measure its efficacy in terms of rotations per minute (RPMs)

Introduction Video

EDC-01: Gaining Traction on Mars Facilitation Guide (PDF)

EDC-01: Gaining Traction on Mars Facilitator Presentation (PDF)

Next Generation Science Standards Addressed

Engineering Design

  • MS–ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS–ETS1–2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS–ETS1–3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • MS–ETS1–4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved. The performance expectations above were developed using the following elements.

Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation

  • MS–PS2–2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
  • MS–PS2–3. Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.
  • MS–PS2–5. Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to proivde evidence that fields exist between ojects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.

Related NASA Content

Online Resources

Informational Videos

Contact Information

Gerald Voltz
Education Program Specialist
(216) 433-8817

Glenn Research Center – Office of STEM Engagement

Phone: (216) 433-6656

Latest Content

Stay up-to-date with the latest content from NASA as we explore the universe and discover more about our home planet.

NASA to Start Designing More Sustainable Jet Engine Core
4 min read

NASA, alongside industry, will soon begin designing a new jet engine concept for the next generation of ultra-efficient airliners —…

Dr. Lori Glaze to begin six-month Detail as Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for ESDMD
3 min read

Agency leadership has chosen Dr. Lori Glaze to begin a six-month detail as the Acting Deputy AA for the Exploration…

NASA Around the World: Interns Teach Virtual Lessons in Kenya
2 min read

Video Credit: NASA/Dennis Brown, TechLit Africa When it comes to inspiring the next generation, NASA interns know no bounds. Interns…