When Perseverance landed on Mars last month, it captured the imaginations of people around the globe.
Among the awestruck viewers: 9 boys, 5 girls and 3 teachers at the Westport Weston Cooperative Nursery School.
They talked about the event during their morning meeting. When the teachers asked if the 3- and 4-year-olds would like to build their own “Mars lander,” they said of course!
The staff printed out photos of Perseverance, its helicopter, NASA’s control room and the Martian landscape.
Parents contributed old technology items (remote controls, cameras), metals, shiny objects, cans, heels, colanders, wire, tape — you name it.
Children first made “solar panels” and “heat shields.” They cut pieces from a space blanket, and glued them on matte board.
They brainstormed ideas. It needed an antenna. A claw. A unicorn rover. And, of course, a bathroom.
On the 3rd day — with strict supervision — the youngsters drilled holes in the wood plank, to attached the panels.
Veteran Westport science teacher Frank Cronson visited, with a Lego rover model. He told them about Mars’ lower gravity, and where the reddish color comes from (iron oxide).
One day, the children built a papier-mâché crater, and painted it red.
They read books about rockets and planets. They sang planet songs. and colored drawings about the planets.
It was a great adventure. And who knows? One day, a little girl or boy from the Cooperative Nursery School may set foot on Mars.
All they need is a little inspiration from their teachers. The opportunity to dream.
And of course, perseverance.