Have you ever wondered what life would be like on Mars? How would we charge our phones or cook our food? On Sunday, 21st October, The American School of Bombay’s Advancement and Robotics Team organised a workshop on “Life On Mars” to explore these questions and more. 40 students from MLSI teamed up and participated in this workshop where they had the opportunity to spend time with industry professionals, learning about sustainability, renewable energy, and solutions to possible problems with life on the red planet! They designed, ideated, prototyped, and tested different ways to make life on Mars sustainable!
Students teams were assigned a mentor each from Pangaea, a student-led organisation that serves as role models in the learning community through their work in robotics and STEM education. They create a positive learning environment which encourages students to explore new fields which prepare them for a technology-based future.
One of our student teams, who called themselves the “Connec-tians” (Atharva, Arjun, Nishant and Vidhi) even won third place for the prototype they created to make Life on Mars sustainable! We were ecstatic at their victory and keen to share their experience and learnings with the entire school community
Here is the experience, shared by the winning team who made us all proud:
“We named our group Connec-tians inspired by the theme for connections through electricity and “tians” coming from Martians! Our main aim was to make potential life at Mars easy by providing a plan that would help us stay connected to the rest of the world and moreover make life at Mars easier. At the start of the program, we were shown a PowerPoint presentation on the design process through which we understood how we should present a physical representation of our model and how we can implement different solutions on Mars. This was also towards solving the hurdles and challenges for survival on Mars.
We selected ‘Electricity’ as our topic as we thought it is imperative for any planet to have connectivity for survival purposes. We further created a research question:
How can we produce electricity on Mars, keeping in mind the sustainability of energy resources, harsh conditions and supply ?
After understanding the problem on the above, we came up with 26 ideas! With the help of our mentor, we finally narrowed it down to following four and decided to include that in our model:
- Geothermal sources of extraction:
- Electromagnetic Induction:
- Hydroelectric power
- Hybrid between solar and wind energy sources
We decided to create a power station to generate power through the four above sources of extraction.
Our power station was divided into four sections:
- Geothermal: This would include extracting all the geothermal radiation which has been emitted from the sun to Mars and using that energy efficiently to power anything we need to. The heat that we would extract was filtered,and then stored in the power storage tank.
- Electromagnetic: We would use the natural gas from the atmosphere and through the process of sublimation we would convert it into dry ice (solid carbon dioxide). We decided to use the high carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere to our advantage. This dry ice could be used to rotate on a surface that is connected to a magnet which can magnetize a turbine. This would then activate the generator to produce electricity. This process is electromagnetic induction. Alternatively, through deposition, the ice will turn back into natural gas which can also be used to heat up water in a thermal power station. Our mentor guided us through this, by sharing relevant information and guided us to research on the same so we could apply it to our model.
- Hydroelectric: Since the average temperature on Mars is -80 deg C, hypothetically speaking we decided to use a planetary environmental chamber / ultra-anti-freeze system. This is to prevent the water from freezing and make it available to generate electricity. We learnt that this is already being applied in space!
- Hybrid solar and wind: Our fourth idea was to use the present orbiting satellites around Mars to analyze the wind rates in case of a sandstorm or an uneventful occasion that could damage our solar panels. These panels will be rotated or covered before the event of the sandstorm to prevent it from being damaged. If the latter occurs, then the panels will not be able to activate the photovoltaic cells required to produce energy. The solar panels will have a hybrid wind turbine to constantly produce energy even during rough winds.
With the use of wires, we showed how the power was transported and stored in the powerhouse.
The judges justified our victory by stating that our project was unique and had originality of thought. Since we had kept most conditions on Mars in consideration ,while designing the model, that earned us extra credit. We had also combined so much of our learning into one model in a short period of time. We also used the NASA website to collect our data and substantiate our findings and our recommendations.
Through coordination and teamwork, being good communicators, thinkers and knowledgeable we could achieve this accolade. The overall exposure to this program made us better communicators as students, interact with students from all over Mumbai, and accordingly understand where we as a team stand in terms of analysis on Life on Mars. The topic that was picked also was one that is to be crucially understood with upcoming of time and is very significant for students of our age to learn about.”
We are sure that after reading the above experience shared by the ‘Connec-tians’ has made you all proud of our students. It is fantastic to see how the workshop has brought out so many IB Learner Profile Attributes in our students and hopefully many opportunities like these in the future will continue doing so.
A big thank you to Mrs. Seervai for giving our students the opportunity and to the parents who encouraged our students to attend and coordinated the teams!
From L to R: Atharva (Grade 9 Aster), Nishant (Grade 9 Iris), Arjun (Grade 9 Aster) & Vidhi (Grade 9 Iris)
L to R Nishant, Atharva, Arjun, Vidhi