Meet a NASA Engineer - Kobie Boykins
A Challenge for You!
Before the rovers Kobie designs can begin their work on Mars, they have to land there first! It's quite the challenge to safely place a complex scientific instrument on another planet after spending months traveling at thousands of miles per hour.
Here's your challenge: using what you've learned about forces and motion, design a system to safely place a rover on Mars, keeping in mind its tremendous speed and mass. Make a video demonstrating or describing your system and tell us why and how it would work.
The groups who submit videos used in the broadcasts will receive a special gift from Kobie!
About Kobie Boykins
Kobie Boykins is a mechanical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Kobie is on the front lines of the exploration of Mars. His work in designing components for Martian rovers has led to the rovers Spirit and Opportunity exploring the surface of the red planet long beyond their designed lifetimes.
Kobie is currently awaiting the launch of Curiosity, the next rover to launch to Mars. Curiosity uses a revolutionary new landing method called the "skycrane" and will spend several months on the surface, taking samples and investigating whether Mars was, or is, a suitable place for life to take hold.
Join JASON's live event on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 10:30am, 1:30pm, 4:30pm, 6:30pm ET and ask Kobie about Mars, rovers, space exploration, and how physics plays an important role in his job. Be sure to review the activities and resources below to prepare!
Resources for Kids
- Terminal Velocity Expedition 3
Explore the topics of force and motion and learn how Kobie uses them every day in designing vehicles for the harsh environment of space.
- Expedition 3 Briefing Video
Watch this video to learn more about the forces that shape our world.
- Extreme Microbes
Play this digital lab to see if you can design a microbe that will survive the rigors of the Martian surface!
Resources for Educators
- NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Page
Use information and resources on this page to give your students background knowledge on NASA's upcoming Mars mission, in which Kobie had a part designing components.
- Newton's Three Laws of Motion
Watch this video with your students to review Newton's Three Laws of Motion and learn how they play a crucial role in Kobie's work.
- It's a Blast! Activity
In this activity, you will create and test rockets to explore the physics of motion, including the effect of mass. From your observations, you will construct an understanding of Newton’s Second and Third Laws of motion, as well as the basics of rocket propulsion.
About the Live Event
On Wednesday, October 19, JASON will broadcast four live shows, lasting approximately 40 minutes each. During the shows you'll learn about Kobie and his engineering work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, and have the chance to submit text questions and answer interactive polls. In addition, you can submit video questions before the event. Schools submitting video questions increase the odds of their questions being used during the event.
Video Question Submission Guidelines
- Video question submission is open until 7pm ET on October 12
- Make sure your video question relates to Kobie and his work
- Ensure that your video is well-lit and the audio is free of background noise. Consider using a microphone if the student is far from the camera.
- Please record only one question per video clip. You can submit as many as you like!
- Students should state their first name only, the state or country they are from, and their question
- Unfortunately we cannot use all the video questions we receive. The more creative and interesting you are, the better your chances of being selected!
Each student submitting a video question must also fax in a permission form with a parent or guardian's signature. Download student permission form.