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 IU Trident Indiana University

mARs Colony Design, STEM Engagement Activity

This outreach activity empowered 75 middle school aged students with 3D spatial design software tools and delighted their imagination by displaying their work using modern augmented reality technology. 

Middle school students engaged in the design, visualization, and analysis process using 3D software tools.  3D software tools are commonly used in the careers involving science, technology, engineering, and math. Students explored their personally created designs using augmented reality technology which provided them a sense of ownership to an advanced technology. The hope is that this unique feeling of ownership will inspire future adaption to overcome challenges via their own confidence.

This outreach activity asks students to use their ideas to design for the colonization of the surface of Mars. Challenges discussed before the activity are air breathability, food, water, terraforming, shelter, weather, 1/3 gravity, energy, entertainment, communication, and the unknown. Each student group of 2-3 is given a 500m x 500m plane of land in the 3D software Trimble Sketchup and introduced to the interface as well as the Google Warehouse feature. They were then asked to produce a 3D colony design supplied by the large library of pre modeled 3D objects in the Google warehouse. Student colonies were submitted to the AVL instructor and then processed through an established augmented reality software workflow. The result is an iPad app that students use to examine the overall city of designed Martian colonies including their own work. The app recognizes an actual view of the Martian terrain displayed by the Google Mars software and each student’s respected design is positioned in the appropriate sector of land.

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Communication (930) - Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia

Secondary Field: Aerospace Engineering (101) - Astronautical Engineering