Students from Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover Design Team are adapting their traditional onsite K-12 outreach visits to virtual learning sessions for curious kids who are housebound during coronavirus pandemic school closures.
“Teaching future engineers and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) innovators about space exploration is a big part of the Mars Rover Design Team’s mission,” says Téa Thomas, a senior in business and management systems at Missouri S&T from Lake Lotowana, Missouri. “We want to help parents and teachers who are homeschooling right now and need a break, and the outreach is a lot of fun for us,” Thomas says. “We were all pretty sad when we couldn’t visit the schools and groups like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for our presentations.”
In mid-March, Thomas issued a Facebook invitation to parents and teachers offering virtual outreach sessions about the team’s Mars rover and received an overwhelming response from almost 200 parents and teachers across five countries and 12 U.S. states. She set up four presenters from the 75-member team to share their knowledge throughout the week through various video conferencing platforms. The presenters included seniors Sarah Dlouhy of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Eli Verbrugge of Kirkwood, Missouri, and junior Dan Napierkowski, of Batavia, Illinois, all in computer engineering; and Hollis Hervey, of Union, Missouri, a junior in mechanical engineering. Keyton Rovka, of Wentzville, Missouri, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, created the video the team emailed to those who could not attend the live presentations.