01 Apr 2021

STEM – NASA Teleconference

There was an exclusive opportunity for the ‘What’ll happen to the wattle??!’ schools last week. Wyvern submitted a video last year and is now 1 of 150 schools who will receive and plant Wattle seeds in August 2021 that have been to Space (The International Space Station).

This exclusive opportunity happened on Thursday March 25th at 11.00am Sydney time, where we had a group of boys interact with an amazing guest speaker via teleconference. Todd Barber is the NASA JPL lead propulsion engineer for the Mars 2020 mission and he presented about Perseverance and the Mars mission. The Year 5 and 6 boys who were selected have already given up lunchtimes to find out about the NSW Young Scientist competition and have demonstrated a keen interest in Space exploration. 24 Students submitted questions and watched this presentation online.

Todd Barber is a JPL senior propulsion engineer, spending two decades as lead propulsion engineer on the Cassini mission to Saturn, following part-time work on the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, Deep Impact (DI) mission, and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, which landed the large rover Curiosity on the red planet on August 5th, 2012.  He also recently began supporting the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission and was the Mars 2020 propulsion lead engineer for operations.  Much to Todd’s delight, he is now supporting the Voyager mission as well, more than forty years after the launch.

Here are some thoughts from the students:

I liked the hidden codes that the JPL engineers left on the Perseverance Rover. The wheels had morse code for JPL repeated all over them. The parachute had a secret code you had to crack that stood for the JPL motto ‘Dare Mighty Things’. I also enjoyed how the NASA ground people celebrated when the Perseverance finally touched down on Mars. 
Bryant Diep 5B

I found the teleconference very interesting – I learnt a lot about the Perseverance and Mars itself. 
Fred L’Estrange 5B

My favourite part was finding out about the ‘What’ll happen to the wattle’ experiment. Also how all the rovers evolved – the ‘family bumper sticker’ of all the rovers that went before Perseverance, that is stuck at the back of Perseverance, made me laugh.
Kyan Pavendranathan 5T

The laser that the Perseverance shoots at Mars’ rocks to find out the composition and to collect samples is really cool.
Xavier Forsell 5O

I liked the parachute landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars – it shoots rockets downwards to slow down because the three parachutes can’t collect enough air on Mars’ thin atmosphere.
Arun Thanigasalem 5B

Newington, Wyvern House

115 Cambridge Street
Stanmore NSW 2048
+61 2 9568 9444


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