Rover Adventurers

A project based learning event using maker tools for a gamified learning experience.

Event by:

Galina Zvereva –, LinkedIn, +358449632167

Eeli Antikainen –, +3585814049

Filip Sever –, LinkedIn, 045 664 3511

Rajakylä School blog post

Background story

The Rover Adventurers is a hands-on learning event where parents and children have the opportunity to learn about MAKER tools. The event is driven by the story of the Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars on February the 18th 2021. However, in our event, NASA looses contact with the rover, and our participants need to complete a series of tasks to collect the scattered code letters to restart the auto-repair of the rover.

To attract families’ interest we arranged a promo video, an invitation and a pre-survey.

Objective of the event

Participants are divided into teams – 6 in our case. The six teams all need to complete 5 tasks to gather letters, one awarded for each completed task. Once all letters are collected, representatives from all teams come together and try to find out the secret question – in our case, matching the total 6 teams x 5 tasks meant 30 letters + questionmark.

The question was ”Who was the first astronaut in space?” The correct answer being ”Gagarin”. When the correct answer is given, the adventurers have succeeded and the rover is repaired.


Elementary school children (in this project 4th graders) and their parents.

The amount of participants depends on how many tools are available at the venue. In our event in one team there was 2-6 participants.


  1. Introduction / Narrative / Tasks / Icebreaker session (25 min).
  2. Teams work on the tasks (120 min).
  3. Collaborative work to find the secret question (10 min).
  4. Closing words (5 min).

Each task takes approximately 20-30 minutes per team. In our event, teams were given different order of tasks to complete, to avoid congestion with tasks where the amount of tools is limited (3D printers). The attached file shows instructions for 1 of the 6 teams. The instructions are the same, but in a different order, and the letter which needs to be 3D-printed is different.

Aim of the event

1. Introduction of MAKER tools to parents and children

2. Introduction of STEAM pedagogy (collaborative learning, problem-based learning, creative problem solving, and regulation of learning)

3. Introduction of gamification in learning (narrative, rewards)


The five tools listed below are the ones used in the Rajakylä event. Similar tools will also work. Depending on the number of participants, the suitable amount of tools needs to be prepared.

In our event with 6 teams, we had typically both parents and one child in each team. While 1 Osmo set and 1 iPad would suffice to acomplish the task, we prepared 2 sets per team, to allow the parents to try the codeblocks as well. Similar was done with the other tools as well. Below, at the end of each tool, the bracket number represents the number of tool sets available in our event.

  1. Osmo-coding sets, and iPads (5)
  2. Bee bots and letter grid mats (2)
  3. Morse Code: iPads for audio playback and headphones (4)
  4. Anycubic 3D printers (2)
  5. Sphero robots (8)

We observed that some teams solve tasks quicker than others, and where possible, additional tools could be prepared to allow them to move to the next task to reduce waiting times. The childrens’ and the parents’ familiarity and understanding of tools varies, and sufficient time should be given to them to get to know the tool and get a basic understanding of how they work.

Story and Tasks

Opening presentation

In the opening presentation, we showed participants a clip made of the Perseverance landing, but added a twist, where the rover breaks and NASA looses connection to it. To help repair the rover, the participants are sent to Mars to help repair it.

Icebreaker session

After the video participants made their team flag from handicraft materials (wooden sticks for flag poles, paper for flag canvas, color pens, tape)

Osmo Coding

In the Osmo coding task, the participants had to complete the first three levels of the game. This includes the basic tutorial of the game, where coding blocks are introduced and their various functions. The students were familiar with Osmo, and found the task easy to solve. All teams finished the task in the given time (30 minutes). The parents on the other hand were not familiar with Osmo. Some parents, who have done programming had no problems completing the levels, while others needed support, but were able to learn within the given time. All parents completed at least 2 out of 3 levels.

Bee bots

Participants were given a set of coordinates consisting of a number and a letter (for example 4C, 1A, 4D, 5D ). Participants had to place an imaginary vertical and horizontal line along the alphabetmat, where the coordinates go. Each team is given coordinates for four words, which they need to decipher first, and then program the Bee Bot to drive along the canvas in the right order to spell out the words.

Participant can program the Bee Bot to drive across all letters at once, or drive from letter to letter.

The coordinates marked blue are not fixed. Participants need to find out which what the letters, and which way the numbers need to be placed to get actual words from them.

For example, when alligned as in the image (number on top, and letters on the side) the first code given is: 4C, 1A, 4D, 5D = MARS

If the numbers are on the left side, and the letters on the top, the same code would come out as: QARW.

Once deciphered, the participants have to program the Bee Bot to drive in the correct order from letter to letter to ”collect” them. In the MARS case they need to program the correct sequence to make the Bee Bot go to M -> A -> R -> S.

The starting point is always on the lowest row.

Morse code

The Morse code exercise had the participants listen in on pre-recorded messages to decipher which words were being messaged through morse code. Participants are given the Morse Code Alphabet to find the corresponding letters for the words. The custom made morse code words can be accessed through our youtube channel, or by scanning the QR codes. We gave iPads, headphones, pencils and writing paper.

Morse code playlist

3D printing

Unlike the other tasks, where completing the exercise a letter is given, in the 3D printing one the participants get to print one of the letters themselves.

We prepared riddles for the 3D printing task to guess which letter participants must print.

As the students and parents were the least familiar with 3D printing, our aim was to simplify the task, while still showing all the steps involved in 3D printing.

We used Tinkercad to let the participants find, resize (enlarge) and download the letter in the .STL format.

Depending on the printer used, the 3D printing program will vary, and so will the exacts steps to print the letters. In the Anycubic printer, we instert the .STL file, connect the PC to the printer, cut the letter in the program, and press ”print”. The printer requires a few minutes to warm up, and approximately 3 minutes (depending on the size you choose) for the printing of the letter.

Sphero race

Before the participants can drive the Sphero balls, they need to build the track. Due to time constraints we decided to have participants build a single track collaboratively, where each team builds one track element. Each of the teams has to construct a different element: a left turn, a right turn, an incline, a decline, and a tunnel. The students were able to choose any materials available in the FabLearnLab as their building material for the track.

The parents let the children build the track, and mostly helped making sure that the requirements is met.

Final task: The secret message

Once all tasks are completed, the children come together with their letters. They need to put them together and form words to decipher the message. We used different colors for each word to make it easier to decipher. Given the 5 tasks and 6 teams, a total of 30 letters was collected. This can be changed to suit the required number of teams or tasks. In our event, the message was a question: ”Who was the first astronaut in space?”

We let the children think it through, and present their answer: ”Gagarin”.

We ran a final video clip revealing that they were correct, and successfully repaired the Perseverance rover.

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