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Mars Rover-Surface Operations
Lab 1 - Collect a Sample

Teacher Portal

Launch the Engage Section

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

  1. Write the word “Mars” on the board, and note students' answers as they offer information.
  2. Invite students to share ideas about how scientists work.
  3. Guide students to the idea of the Mars rovers. Show images from the Background Information, or other classroom resources to help.
  4. Note students’ responses on the board, as they pertain to what the students will be doing in the Lab (driving, collecting things, etc).
  5. Guide students to thinking about the way that they control their Code Base robots, and suggest things like coding and computers if students need help to make the connection.
  6. Show students Field setup where they will test their projects.  Show them VEXcode GO open on a tablet or computer, and the Code Base Robot.
  1. What are some things that we know about Mars?
  2. How do you think scientists figured those things out so that we could learn about them?
  3. Guess what? Scientists are learning about Mars right now, from here, on Earth. How do you think they’re doing that?
  4. What kinds of things do you think the Mars rovers do to help scientists?
  5. How do you think the rovers are able to drive around Mars to do those things? There aren’t any astronauts on Mars to drive them, so how do you think that happens?
  6. We are going to pretend our Code Base robots are rovers on Mars! How do you think we could code them to pretend to collect samples as the real rovers do?

Getting the Students Ready to Build

Before we can start coding our Code Base robot rovers, we need to build the Code Base!

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 team. Journalists should gather the materials on the checklist.

    image of the code base, LED Bumper Top build
    Code Base - LED Bumper Top


  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, a small classroom item to act as a sample, and access to a GO 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 rovers. Mark the start and sample locations, as shown, using a dry erase marker, or classroom items. Have these spread out around the classroom to allow students ample space to test their projects. Both Labs in this Unit will use the same Field setup, so you can leave your fields together from Lab 1 to Lab 2.

image of field setup
Field Setup

  • Try another project - If students successfully reach the sample location right away, encourage them to try navigating to a different sample location. Use a dry erase marker to mark a sample location that is closer or further from the base, and have students adjust the parameters of their project to reach this new sample location.
    • Try a Turn - For groups who finish early, and need additional challenges, have them add a [Turn for] block to the end of their project in Play Part 1, and test it to see what the Code Base will do. Ask them to experiment, and think of ways that this block could be useful in collecting samples on the Field.
    • Use the Get Ready...Get VEX...GO! PDF Book and Teacher’s Guide - If students are new to VEX GO, read the PDF book and use the prompts in the Teacher’s Guide (Google / .pptx / .pdf) to facilitate an introduction to building and using VEX GO before beginning the Lab activities. Students can join their groups and gather their VEX GO Kits, and follow along with the building activity within the book as you read.