Local students take ‘Mission to Mars’

Staff Reports • Updated Mar 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

 Mt. Juliet Middle School Students Exploring and Expanding Knowledge in teacher Gerri Ann Ford’s gifted program were recently challenged to participate in the engineering design competition, “Mission to Mars.”  

The gifted SEEK students in sixth through eighth grades have studied a NASA Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum where students worked together in engineering teams to discover more about Mars, discuss what is needed to make a livable community and then plan a mission to get them to Mars, which involved designing their own rocket.  

The overall goal of the project was to consider what it would take to achieve a livable and life-sustaining community on Mars that was culturally and artistically rich. 

The SEEK students were then challenged to design and build at home a two-dimensional or three-dimensional model of a sustainable community for the extreme environment on Mars.  They then entered their models to be judged in a competition at MJMS sponsored by two engineering firms. David Wright with Carpenter Wright Engineers in Nashville and Rob Porter with Civil Site Design Group of Nashville served as the judges. Both men once had children involved in the SEEK Program.  

The students presented their 2D and 3D models to the two engineers and also answered any questions they had about the models. Cash prizes were given as an incentive to the SEEK students. Students who participated in the Mission to Mars competition thought tit was a wonderful learning experience to help them prepare for their future.  

This opportunity allowed the SEEK students in Ford’s classes to share their newly developed problem-solving skills and their design-based solutions with others.

Eighth-grade SEEK students Clay Smith and Carter Schunk won the Mission to Mars competition and $75. Schunk is the son of Patti and Jim Schunk. Smith is the son of Joshua and Melissa Smith. 

The runner-up team was comprised of sixth graders Anamaree Dranes, daughter of Liana and Billy Dranes, Lillice Wilson, daughter of Shauna and Patrick Wilson, and Hannah Lanning, daughter of Georgiana Lanning. The team received $50.

Third place and $30 went to Merryann Lurie, daughter of Carolyn PenneKamp. 

In the 2D division, winners were seventh grader Abigail Fellows, daughter of Nikki and Gordan Fellows, eighth grader Lillian Wallace, daughter of Jennifer and William Wallace, sixth grader Carson Van Hoven, son of Kelly and Pete Van Hoven, sixth grader Lily Crickmar, daughter of Rachel and David Crickmar, sixth grader Jason Wright, son of Julie and Jimmy Wright, and Madelin Pollei, daughter of Heather and Jason Pollei.

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