January 22, 2018
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA—About 100 Vejar Elementary second-graders experienced the thrill of being NASA aerospace engineers on Thursday morning.
Students were given the task of building a lunar lander that could safely land marshmallow astronauts tucked inside paper cup cabins.
Their mission was to keep the precious cargo from falling out during a moon landing.
Teams of three created their tiny spaceships using simple materials - construction paper, index cards, straws, and tape.
The young engineers attached index cards folded accordion-style to make springs that could absorb the landing impact.
Some groups used straws to attach paper canopies to shield the marshmallows from falling out, while others added helicopter-style paper propellers to slow the landing.
A few clever kids even added tiny marshmallows to the bottom of the lunar platforms as an extra layer of fluffy cushion.
“They really enjoy the design process experience and are becoming quite comfortable since the start of our PLTW program,” said teacher Giselle Cordova.
Each group named their spaceship and made several test runs, adjusting the designs as needed, before the moon landings.
“It’s fun building!” exclaimed Estela Guzman, age 7, from Team Panda.
“I’m so proud of what our team created!” commented Isaac Ahn.
Ten Cal Poly Pomona engineering students stopped by to lead the hour-long science lesson on January 18.
“Our goal was to show students the design process for engineers,” said senior Vanessa Armenia, a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
“Engineers are given problems, and it is our job to fix them with the knowledge and information we have available to us,” she added.
At the end of the building session, youngsters cheered for one another as the college students dropped the lunar landers from different heights.
“3-2-1!” they counted down before each landing.
Most of the unique designs survived falls from 3-feet, a few held up from 6-feet above.
“The kids did an excellent job on the project! They were resourceful with their materials and worked as teams to reach their goal,” said Armenta.
“It was so great to see students working together to solve a problem,” said teacher Laura Saenz.
“Although they felt challenged, they persevered and came up with some interesting ideas. Plus, they had a lot of fun doing it!”
Vejar Elementary students design lunar landers with the help of Cal Poly Pomona engineering students on January 18.