Students earn honors for rovers

NILES — Creating rover wheels that best can travel over the surface of Mars helped two teams of students at Niles Middle School receive a 3D printer and $100 for their classrooms.

Gaye Breegle, a seventh-grade science teacher, said the two teams at the middle school competed this spring competed at the second annual Gaining Traction on Mars; Running of the Rovers NASA engineering design challenge hosted by Inventor Cloud of Youngstown.

Breegle said students researched about past and present rovers that have traveled on the surface of Mars. Through testing, they created their own rovers to see what wheels best would travel on different surfaces.

“The students did testing in the classroom on different surfaces — a rock pit, a sand pit and an incline. They tested different wheels to see which traveled the best over the surfaces. The students had to design and try out modified wheels for the rovers,” Breegle said.

She said students learned that when they modified their rover’s wheels, they were more effective. They worked with career technology teacher Don Rogge who worked with students using a 3D printer.

The class activity started in January and was completed by the end of the school year. Students presented their findings to a panel of judges in May.

“Both teams were very successful. The girls’ team won first place and helped us get a 3D printer for the classroom. The boys’ team came in second place and helped us get a $100 gift certificate,” Breegle said. “A lot of STEM is involved with this activity.”