The rover contest started 12 years ago and challenges Houston-area grade-schoolers to build models of the Mars Rover. The actual competition day is January 25th, but today is the deadline to reserve a spot in the contest.
Edgar Bering is a professor of physics and electrical engineering at the University of Houston and runs the competition. He says kids in grades 3-8 are eligible to enter.
"Because they're building their own model and they're designing a project to answer their own question, they're much, much more engaged than they would be with some assignment out of a book."
Bering says there are three categories, models made from art supplies, ones that actually move and more elaborate battery-operated remote control models. More than 600 students entered last year's contest from three dozen area schools
"The basic minimum cost free-form model doesn't have to work. It's a mock-up and you can think of this as an exercise in art because it's actually a sculpture."
He says some students are pretty creative when they build their models.
"One of my favorites came from somebody up in New Caney where the innards of a toilet were being replaced and so they washed and scrubbed and spray painted the old toilet parts and turned them into a most amazing rover model."
Kids can enter online to reserve a spot in the competition at www.marsrover.org.