When NASA and Future Engineers launched the Lunabotics Junior Contest in October 2021, thousands of students from across the United States responded by submitting innovative robot designs that dig and move lunar soil. On March 15, 2022, twenty students learned their entries were selected as semifinalists and would be moving on to the next round of competition.
"It's so exciting to see the creativity and enthusiasm these students brought to the Lunabotics Junior Contest,” said Kris Brown, NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement. “I'm thrilled that we’re helping to cultivate curiosity and critical skills, as well as interest in NASA’s exciting mission. We hope that as a result, these students will readily see themselves in STEM careers, and pursue more learning opportunities that will prepare them to take on the technological challenges we’re facing as we expand our reach into our solar system."
Nearly 500 educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts offered their time as volunteer judges, to review the thousands of robot designs submitted from students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.
As part of the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon and establish long-term lunar science and exploration capabilities that will serve as a springboard for future exploration of Mars. Lunar regolith is instrumental in this development and could be used to build a moon base using lunar concrete; to harvest water that can also be used for rocket fuel; and to extract possible metals or minerals.
That’s where the students came in! K-12 students were tasked with designing a robot to help excavate lunar soil (regolith) from one area of the lunar South Pole to a holding container near a future Artemis Moonbase.
The contest offered two competitive divisions grades K-5 and grades 6-12 and the semifinalists are listed below.Lunabotics Junior Semifinalists:
All twenty semifinalists have won a Lunabotics Junior Prize Pack and will move on in the competition. On March 22nd the semifinalists will be narrowed down to 8 finalists who will win a virtual session with a NASA expert. Two Grand Prize winners will be announced on March 29th and they will win a virtual chat for their classrooms with Kennedy Space Center Director Janet Petro.
The Lunabotics Junior Challenge was a collaborative effort between Future Engineers, NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and the Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM).
For more information on NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/stem