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Greenway students learn that Perseverance pays off

April 23, 2021
Greenway - Rover

Story supplied by Greenway School

In February, Greenway teacher Barb Ferniuk and her Grade 6 students watched NASA’s Perseverance planetary rover successfully land on Mars. 

The students then had the opportunity to meet virtually with Kayla Parcero, a mission systems engineer who works in the Entry Systems and Vehicle Development Branch of NASA.  

Prior to the meeting, the students developed questions to ask Parcero. During their conversation with the NASA scientist, the students learned a lot about her job and the purpose of the Mars exploration rovers.

After studying a planet of their choosing, the students gathered in small groups and designed, created and built their own planetary rovers.

Ferniuk asked Parcero if her students could share and discuss the attributes of their rovers with her and she graciously agreed.  

The second video conference with Parcero happened at the end of March. The students presented to Parcero the design, purpose and functions of their rovers. This time the students were the experts and Parcero asked the questions. 

“Knowing we were going to talk to the NASA scientist made the making of the rovers even more exciting,” said Jiann, a Grade 6 student.  

“It was terrifying talking to her because she is an expert and I thought I would mess up,” said Maryam, a student. 

Kaylana, another Greenway student, said she felt “quite special” to get to talk to a real-life NASA scientist.

Parcero was impressed with all the Greenway groups and their rover designs.

“You really understood the mission and the planet before designing your rovers. Super great job,” Parcero told the students.

When Parcero asked the groups what was the most challenging part of the project, Greenway student Denrick replied, “The most difficult thing was landing it. Some things broke and we had to use different ideas to make it better. 

“Those are real-life challenges we face here at NASA,” Parcero responded. “Different teams make different pieces of a project and when you put it all together, it often doesn’t work out right away. We do lots of teamwork, testing, trying, revising, re-designing and trying again. This process happens all the time. We have to be curious and comfortable to try lots of things and never give up when faced with a challenge. Things fail all the time and we work together to make it better. 

Adrial, a Greenway student, was moved by Parcero’s message of teamwork and stick-to-itiveness. 

“I couldn’t agree more with her speech of never giving up,” Adrial said.

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