Student Team Challenge: What Legacy Would You Leave on the Moon?

One lucky team of kids from somewhere in the world will be sending a video to the Moon explaining what they'd leave behind there if they had the chance. For the sixth (and final) year in a row Google is running its Google Lunar XPRIZE, an online competition that challenges students ages 8 to 17 to form a team of two to four members and design, create and program robots.

The challenge was inspired by the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a parallel competition to spark engineers and entrepreneurs to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. This XPRIZE is in its final phase, wherein five privately funded teams are preparing to initiate their launches to the Moon by the end of the year. Presumably, one of those launches will include a disc containing the winning video from the student event.

In phase one of the student challenge, 12 finalist teams will be picked from the video submissions to receive robotics kits, 3D printers and gift certificates to purchase materials.

In the second phase, they'll build robotic lunar rovers and set up games with lunar landscapes showing how their robots would work in the mission laid out in their original video. Then the teams must share the game with people in the community to teach their audiences about lunar exploration, the Lunar XPRIZE and STEM education. The demonstration must be recorded in a video as well and uploaded to YouTube.

From those efforts one team will be selected as the winner of a grand prize, allowing them to send their video to the Moon and take a trip to meet with the winning Google Lunar XPRIZE team, whether that's SpaceIL in Israel; Moon Express in the United States; Synergy Moon in New Zealand; TeamIndus in India; or HAKUTO in Japan.

To get started, the student teams must register before March 1. By March 15, they're expected to submit their short videos to YouTube explaining what they'd leave on the Moon as a legacy. Winners of that first round will be announced at the end of March. Teams will have until June 30 to build their simulated lunar rovers, run their games and educational activities and post their second videos. Judging will take place in the following two weeks by a panel of people from the International Space University.

"As we embark on the final leg of the MOONBOTS Challenge, the next generation of space travelers will get an opportunity to tell us what is most important to them and actually leave that legacy behind on the Moon," said Chanda Gonzales-Mowrer, senior director of the Lunar XPRIZE, in a prepared statement. "We really want to get kids excited about space exploration and the associated STEM disciplines, and we welcome newcomers from all countries and communities to join the competition and help inspire kids all over the world."

Learn more about the student challenge on the MOONBOTS website here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.