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Mars Rover-Exploring Mars Geology
Lab 1 - Collect a Martian Rock Sample

Teacher Portal

Launch the Engage Section

ACTS is what the teacher will do and ASKS is how the teacher will facilitate.

  1. Have students share their ideas about what a planetary geologist might do and study. Write their ideas on the board under the heading “Planetary Geologist.”
  2. Guide students to the idea of using tools and sensors on the Mars rover, to study things on other planets. You can show them images of a Mars rover, like the one in the Background Information, for reference.
  3. Have students share their ideas, and guide them to the use of coding to control the movement of, and sensors on, the rover, so that they can be used in the ways needed by scientists.
  4. Show students a Code Base - Eye + Electromagnet, or refer to the image in the Lab 1 Image Slideshow (Google Doc / .pptx / .pdf). Point out things like the Brain, the Electromagnet, and the Eye Sensor that can be useful.
  5. Have students share ideas about how they might code the Code Base to use the Electromagnet in this way.
  1. What is a Planetary Geologist? What do geologists on Earth study? What do you think planetary geologists study?
  2. Geologists on Earth can go to the places they’re studying, but planetary geologists can’t go to places like Mars. How do you think scientists are able to study things on other planets? How do you think the Mars rover could help them collect information and interact with the Martian terrain?
  3. Rovers, like the Perseverance rover, are built with tools and sensors to help them do specific jobs, like finding, drilling or collecting a rock sample. How do you think scientists use the sensors on the rover to help them learn about Mars geology?
  4. We can use our Code Base as a rover, and it can have special sensors also. What special sensors do you see on this Code Base that might be useful?
  5. How can we use the sensors on our Code Base rover, like the Electromagnet, to help us collect Martian rock and soil samples, like the Mars rover does? How do you think we can code our Code Base to collect something with the Electromagnet?

Getting the Students Ready to Build

Before we can code and test the Electromagnet, we first need to build the Code Base - Eye + Electromagnet! 

Facilitate the Build

  1. InstructInstruct students to join their group, and have them complete the Robotics Roles & Routines sheet. Use the Suggested Role Responsibilities slide in the Lab 1 Image Slideshow as a guide for students to complete this sheet.
  2. DistributeDistribute build instructions to each group. Journalists should gather the materials on the checklist.

    Code Base Eye and Electromagnet build
    Code Base Eye + Electromagnet


  3. FacilitateFacilitate the building process.
    • Builders and Journalists should begin building based on their roles and responsibilities, like those shown in the Lab 1 Image Slideshow.
    • Circulate around the room to help students with building or reading instructions where needed. Ask questions about how the build is being constructed to keep all students engaged in the buildings process, and remind students to follow their Role Responsibilities if they need help taking turns.
  4. OfferOffer suggestions and note positive team building and problem solving strategies as groups build together.
A VEX GO character

Teacher Troubleshooting

Facilitation Strategies

  • Think about how your students will access VEXcode GO. Ensure that the computers or tablets that students will use have access to VEXcode GO. For more information about setting up VEXcode GO, see this VEX Library article.
  • Gather the materials each group needs before class. For this Lab, each group of two students will need a GO Kit, Build instructions, a computer or tablet to access VEXcode GO, and the Red Disk from the Kit. Students will also need access to a Field for testing.
  • Set up your Fields ahead of time, as shown in the image below, to serve as a testing area for the Code Base. Have these spread out around the classroom to allow students ample space to test their projects. All Labs in this Unit will use the same Field setup, so you can leave them together from start to finish. In this image, the Red Disk is shown in place for Play Part 1. You may want to mark the starting locations of the Disk and the Code Base, as well as the Base location with a dry erase marker to help students when they are setting up to test their projects.
    Field Setup
    Field Setup


  • Focus on the concept, not the precision. The goal of this Lab is to focus on the concept of using the Electromagnet in a project. If students slightly misaligned their Code Base, or the Disk is not exactly in the right place when they drive toward it, remind them that it is ok to move the Disk slightly to make sure it gets picked up by the Electromagnet.
  • Use the grid lines on the Field to help with alignment. The Disk and the Electromagnet can both be lined up on intersecting grid lines of the Field, to make it easier for students to be set up for success when they test their projects.