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Montana students engineering a simulated moon mission

During the competition, students build balloon rockets, balloon landers, fly drones, and test LEGO robots.
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Posted at 1:50 PM, May 22, 2023

BOZEMAN — Students in the fifth to twelfth grades are getting ready to land on the moon.

Not literally, but the engineering skills they’re putting to work might just land them a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.

“How would you guys react if you won that trip to the Kennedy Space Center,” we asked a group of eighth grade students from Hardin.

“We would be in shock honestly,” said Giovani Ramirez, Gary Bigman, and Thomas Beaumont.

They’re the eighth grade students from Hardin who are participating in a simulated moon mission at Montana State University.
“We’re trying to figure out which way is best to go a longer distance and to keep the tracks on,” said Bigman.

The group of Hardin boys — along with 40 other students from across Montana — are testing out 3D-printed wheel designs and driving their robots through simulated moon dust.

But that’s only half the challenge.

The coordinator of the event, Camdon Draeger, says students are competing in this engineering challenge to learn about NASA’s Artemis Mission, which will return humans to the moon as early as 2024.

“The Artemis 'ROADS' Mission is based on NASA science,” said Draeger. “It’s a curriculum base and an after-school program to get students excited about STEM.”

Draeger says 'ROADS' stands for robotics, observation, and drone survey.

During the competition, students build balloon rockets, balloon landers, fly drones, and test Lego robots.

Draeger says it’s a lot of work, but it’ll all pay off once names are drawn for a chance to win a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.