NASA STEM Challenges: Parachuting Onto Mars

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NASA STEM Challenges: Parachuting Onto Mars

Objective: Students will use the engineering design process to develop a landing system that creates the most drag to safely land a spacecraft dropped from a great height.

Grade Level: 5-8

Time Required: Three 45-minute sessions

Description: Students will design and test a drag device to slow a spacecraft and protect its cargo, as well as calculate the surface area and measure the mass of the spacecraft. This activity uses the design of the surface area as the variable, not the material of the drag device.

Final Product: Student teams will create and submit a video featuring the process they followed to arrive at the drag device that best slowed the descent of their spacecraft.

Plan Your Challenge

Resources to Complete the Challenge PDF Video
Training Overview for Educators   Watch or Download
Classroom Management Training for Educators   Watch or Download
Challenge Checklist  View [117MB]  
Materials for Challenge View [42KB] Watch or Download
Educator Guide View [2MB] Watch or Download


Deliver Your Challenge

Resources to Complete the Challenge PDF Video
Introductory Video for Students    Watch or Download
Presentation Slides for Students View [2MB]  
Presentation Slides for Students Discussion Guide  View [2MB]  
Video Criteria and Rubric  View [44KB]  


Submit Student Videos

Blue video clapboardLearn helpful video production tips and access the technical requirements and instructions for submitting videos.

How to Submit Videos

Related Resources

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Girl positions pasta on a tableSpaghetti Anyone?
Use this simple activity to introduce students to Engineering Design.

Need help with downloading the video?

Try this.

Click Control or right click on the Download video link.

Select either the Save Target As or Save Link As option.

Select where you want to save the video on your computer, and save the video.

The video will show in the player that is loaded on your computer, such as QuickTime, iTunes, etc.

Page Last Updated: June 24th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Education