February’s Kids in Deerfield Love Science (KiDLS) is all about MARS! We’re excited that the newest rover, Perseverance, landed on February 18. Our program celebrates that amazing accomplishment. If you couldn’t take part in our family program, we’ve got you covered with activity links, a bibliography, and fun videos to watch, including the launch of Perseverance last July!
Activities to do as a family
Landing on Mars
A huge obstacle to exploring Mars is simply being able to land safely on the planet! Perseverance used a parachute to help get to the surface. In this experiment, your family will use three different materials to create parachutes and test them to see which is better! In our KiDLS program, we tested each by attaching an unsharpened pencil to the strings. You only want one variable for the experiment: the material for the parachute. Make sure your parachutes are the same size, no matter the material, and your strings are the same length for each trial.
Life on Mars
Perseverance’s main mission will be to look for signs of ancient life. But what IS life? How do living and nonliving things differ? This activity will help you explore those questions using a few basic materials, such as sand, sugar, yeast, and Alka-Seltzer tablets.
Great books to read about Mars
Life on Mars by Jon Agee
Mars by Chris Oxlade
Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars by Richard Ho
Journey to Mars by David Baker
Mars by Shauna Edson
Birthday on Mars! by Sara Schonfeld
The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch
Space Station Mars by Daniel San Souci
Hey-Ho, to Mars We’ll Go!: A Space-Age Version of the Farmer in the Dell by Susan Lendroth
Videos to watch together
Perseverance launched on July 30, 2020! It landed in Jezero Crater and is going to spend at least one Mars year (two Earth years) exploring the region and gathering samples for a possible return to Earth, which will be a future NASA mission. (All videos courtesy of NASA.)
The helicopter, Ingenuity, will be the first powered flight on another planet. Ingenuity is getting to Mars attached to the belly of Perseverance. Once there, it will detach itself and try to fly. This isn’t part of the Perseverance mission, but really just exploratory to inform future missions.