Putting humans on Mars might not be as far-fetched as it seems, with space-gadgets like the Mars solar-powered S’more oven coming straight out of our local high schools.

As part of their deep learning space program, year 8 students at Park Ridge State High School were provided with the tools to construct a basic solar oven that would cook a food item in the shortest time.

Teams were encouraged to modify and expand upon the basic diagrams provided to construct the most efficient oven possible before presenting it to their parents on Wednesday 15 September, 2021.

Park Ridge SHS STEAM teacher Rebecca Isakson said one of the biggest challenges in establishing a base on Mars was to supply it with adequate power.

“Although various power sources have been proposed and are under consideration, solar power will definitely play a significant role,” she said.

“Surprisingly, the one that we thought would not work was the one that worked the best.”

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Students designed solar-powered ovens using only a pizza box, a solar lamp, clear sheet projectors, black construction paper, tape, thermometer, BBQ skewer, glue, tin foil, timer, ruler, and a pen.

Park Ridge SHS STEAM teacher Adilah Ali said each deep learning space project focused on two of the ‘six C’s’ of education, which included creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, citizenship and character.

“Some of them are very structured, and some of them are not as structured,” she said.

“It depends on what we are getting them to reflect on in the end.”

Mrs Isakson said the students’ engagement had skyrocketed during the deep learning project.

“Our students are literally coming in at the end of lunch time to start on their projects,” she said.

“They don’t even wait until the bell rings – they’re so enthusiastic about their project work that they’re coming into class during lunchtime to finish off projects.”

242105714 378781680397017 3701586162275995266 n 002mYear 8 students at PRSHS were currently working on a space catapult project.

“That is linked to a secret company in America that has been given government funding from the American Defence Force to build what they call a “space-pult,” where they are going to throw rockets using kinetic energy into orbit,” Mrs Isakson said.

“We are using catapults to simulate that.”

Every project was linked to something happening in the real world, including building replicas of rockets currently being built by Nasa, Martian rock sample fetchers, ‘Mars-quake’ towers, and firing rockets.

The students were also provided with a small replica rocket HAILI (Hybrid All-Inclusive Learning Instrument) as a central focus of their space learning.

“It gets them future-thinking,” Mrs Ali said.

“We will definitely be doing this again next year,” Mrs Isakson said.

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