Sixth Graders Explore the Final Frontier
Across grade levels and academic departments, Whitfield students and teachers immerse themselves in STEAM-forward learning in ways that are meaningful, authentic, and, relevant. Our school environment encourages exploration and cultivates innovative and creative thinkers.
In sixth grade science and math, students are wrapping up their Final Frontier project as part of a cross-curricular unit on space systems. Working in small groups, students researched one of the planets in our solar system and designed, constructed, and wired rover robots for their planet using Pitsco Tetrix Robotics equipment. Students will present their Final Frontier projects in class to an audience of their peers.
“This project reinforces critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and collaboration in a cross-curricular atmosphere,” said middle school faculty member Michelle Brown. “It challenges students to analyze and interpret data to determine scale properties of objects in the solar system. The project also addresses human impact on Earth. Hypothetically if our world becomes too damaged to sustain life, we would have to determine where to move. These students are applying what they learned about each of the planets to develop requirements for their unique robots. They have had to be really strong researchers and problem-solvers.”
For middle school math teacher Julie Durst, this collaborative project gives her sixth grade students an opportunity to work on proportion calculations and the use of scale. “We had the students use Microsoft Paint 3D to create their scale models,” said Durst. “They are developing their mathematical understanding of scale and proportions by using a real-world application.”
Students had to design their rovers to successfully complete three distinct tasks and moves based on their planetary research.
Finley Wilkins '26 has enjoyed the ability to be creative. “The rover we are designing to explore Mercury will do three jobs: measure the planet’s craters, collect ice from the craters, and then pick up rocks to take them back to the lab for analysis,” said Wilkins. “Ms. Brown lets us be creative, experiment with different designs and figure things out ourselves but she is always there if we need help or have questions—it’s really nice to have that balance.”
“This has been a really fun project,” said A.J. Reatini '26. “My group’s planet is Mars. We plan to attach a phone to our rover and use it as a camera so that we can watch for life. We are also building two arms on the rover so that it can pick up rocks and other samples.”
Kaitlin Cochran '26 and her group used their creative problem-solving skills to re-engineer their original rover design. “In the beginning when my group was building our first design, we realized our idea wasn’t going to work,” said Cochran. “So, we changed a lot of things and that was difficult. But now it’s awesome! At my old school, we had a very specific way that we had to build a robot. In Ms. Brown’s class, I like that we have a lot more freedom in the way we get to design this project.”