Roving on Mars with Curiosity

Target Audience
  • Students
Hosting Center(s)
  • Armstrong Flight Research Center
  • Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Marshall Space Flight Center
Subject Category
  • Earth Science
  • Physical Science
Unit Correlation
  • Exploring NASA Missions
  • Exploring Space
Grade Level
  • 03
  • 04
  • 05-08
  • 09-12
Minimum Delivery Time
  • 045 min(s)
Maximum Connection Time
  • 060 min(s)

Event Focus

Has Mars ever or still today have an environment able to support microbial life? How can we determine Mars' habitability?



Our understanding of the science of Mars continues by sending the most advanced suite of instruments to the Martian surface. Rovers examine samples and use imagery to detect chemical building blocks of life on Mars and assess what the Martian environment was like in the past. Join us as NASA takes its next steps exploring Mars. See how Curiosity made its way to the Red Planet, and engage in the data that comes from approximately 78 million kilometers (48,360,000 miles) away.


Instructional Objectives




Grades 3-12

  • Learners view, Mars in a Minute video, to relate their knowledge and stimulate discussions about Mars 


Grades 3-4

  • Learners play bingo while actively listening for key terminology that relate the exploration conducted on Mars by the Curiosity rover.

Grades 5-8

  • Learners distinguish soil properties and determine soil quality through basic soil analysis; thereby mimicking the research conducted on Martian samples collected by the Mars Curiosity Rover.

  • Learners create a model of an aeroshell to simulate the entry and descent of the Mars Curiosity Rover (Post-Conference Activity)

Grades 9-12

  • Learners experience being a planetary geologist by using spectral data to identify materials too far away to be touched and physically examined in person.



Grades 3-4

  • Learners will explain what makes Mars the planet of choice for NASA exploration.


Grades 5-8

  • Learners will explain the similarities and differences in soil analysis conducted on the Earth and the analysis conducted by the Curiosity Rover on Mars.


Grades 9-12

  • Learners will explain the topography of Mars through spectral analysis.





Grades 3-12

  • Learners will extend their learning to explain why Mars is the focus of some of NASA's missions and how NASA

    • determines whether life ever arose on Mars
    • characterizes the climate of Mars
    • characterizes the topography of Mars
    • prepares for human exploration



Grades 3-12

  • Learners will discuss how the Ares I and Ares V were possible solutions to the challenges of manned exploration to Mars.


Sequence of Events


Pre-Conference Activities


How big is Mars? How far is it relative to Earth? The activity, Earth, Moon, Mars Balloons, will give students the opportunity to construct a scale model of Mars and discover how far one might travel to visit the most Earth-like planet in our Solar System. Earth, Moon, Mars Balloons can be found in the Mars Activity Guide at:


Earth Moon Mars Balloons Teacher Guide                       

Earth Moon Mars Balloons Student Activity                       

Download file here     


Videoconference Activities


Students will learn about characteristics of the Red Planet by playing Mars Bingo. Next, they will learn about how the rovers and Phoenix Lander entered the Martian atmosphere and landed on the planet's surface. At the end the video conference, students will build and test their landers. Come and explore the Red Planet with NASA.


There are 11 different bingo sheets at this link for this video conference, you will need to provide a bingo sheet for each student:

  • Mars Bingo Sheet                       
  • Pen or pencil to mark off the Bingo boxes

Post-Conference Activities


Activity 1: At the end of the video conference, students will build and test a lander. You will need the following materials:


  • Mars Aeroshell Template                        (used for open inquiry)
  • Mars Aeroshell Template with Directions                       ( used for guided and coupled inquiry)
  • Four pieces of string/yarn approximately 8 inches long
  • One piece of string/yarn approximately 2 feet long
  • One square napkin with the four corners cut off (when it is unfolded)
  • Transparent tape
  • One paper clip


**To make an open inquiry lesson have students build an aeroshell without any instructions

**To make a guided inquiry lesson, provide the template and review the instructions

**To make a coupled inquiry lesson, provide the template and instructions, but do not review





Earth and Space Science; Standard D: Grades 5-8

- The earth is the third planet from the sun in a system that includes the moon, the sun, eight other planets, and their moons, and smaller objects such as asteroids and comets. The sun, an average star, is the central and largest body in the solar system.


Physical Science: Content Standards B: Grades K-4

- The position of an object can be described by locating it relative to another object or background.


Physical Science: Content Standards B: Grades 5-8

- An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed in a straight line

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Page Last Updated: November 5th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator