Kids' Science Challenge: Sports on Mars - Mars Ball: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Aug 02, 2010
Scientist: Kobie Boykins

Kids' Science Challenge: Sports on Mars - Mars Ball

Kids' Science Challenge: Sports on Mars - Mars Ball
A 20-foot slam-dunk? Imagine basketball on Mars!

KB: "Why don't you tell Suparna and I what your game was and how you thought it might be played in someplace like on the surface of Mars."

TJ: "It had two basketball hoops just like a basketball, and then it had this metal ball that collects the dust..."

JM: We're at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where engineers Kobie Boykins and Suparna Mukherjee are typically at work developing a new generation of the Mars rover. But on this day, they're meeting with Kids' Science Challenge winner Tyrone Hutchinson. Tyrone thought up a game called Magnetic Soil Ball. It's a bit like basketball, and it takes advantage of some of the special features on Marslike metallic dust. Astronaut athletes on Mars would collect this dust by dribbling a magnetic ball. That dust releases into a catch bucket beneath the basket, and the first team to fill the bucket wins the game.

SM: "We were thinking about if you had a ball, something like a basketball, if you were planning on bouncing it on the surface of mars, or planning on rolling it?"

TJ: "You collect the dust and the soil by bouncing it"

KB: "Okay."

TJ: "And then shoot it for the basket and it would come off."

SM: "Cool. So these are the magnets that we put in there, and material sticks on it, and then in your game we would want to toss this through a hoop, right? [TJ indicates 'yes'] And then the magnets would stop working"

KB: "And then at that point, we'd have to make something called an electro-magnet. This is a crude example of an electro-magnet. See if I undo this tape here? You'll see there's a whole bunch of coils of wire. And what you would do is you'd actually pass current, you'd put a battery on here or something like that, and that, the battery voltage with the resistance here would actually make a current. And we would make a whole bunch of these within the ball. This is one of the ways we could actually make your ball work."

JM: Pulse of the Planet are made possible by the National Science Foundation. To learn more about the Kids' Science Challenge, our free nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th-graders, check out I'm Jim Metzner.