Students to Build Lunar Rovers in Coeur d’Alene

Friday, June 24 2011

By Donna Emert

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Student teams from Asotin, Clarkston, Lewiston, the Silver Valley, Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls high schools will get hands-on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education this summer as they build a lunar rover.

The experience is made possible through a partnership between the University of Idaho-administered Silver Valley Upward Bound program, UB Math/Science and Discover Technology.

Upward Bound programs serve low-income, first-generation, high-achieving students in targeted high schools. UB students participate in a six-week summer college preparatory program. As part of the program this summer, they will spend a week at the University of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene.

About 20 students will converge at Ross Point Camp in Post Falls on Sunday, kicking off the week-long robotics course, held June 26 to July 1 in University of Idaho classrooms on the North Idaho College campus. Participants will be housed at Ross Point for the week.

The public is welcome to attend the Lunar Rover Challenge from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., Friday, July 1, at the University of Idaho Harbor Center, where student teams will demonstrate their robots’ capabilities on local terrain.

The program features MINDS-i robots.

“The summer program and robotics course provides the students an opportunity to experience something new,” said Marcee Hartzell, director of Silver Valley Upward Bound. “The Silver Valley students don’t normally have an opportunity in their area to participate in robotics engineering and programming. Building the MINDS-i robot will not only be fun, but also very challenging. It also supports the University of Idaho’s goal of increasing focus on the STEM Initiative.”

Upward Bound students must take college preparatory English, mathematics, foreign language and a laboratory/research science during the summer. The robotics challenge is one of three modules of learning during this summer’s program, focusing on mathematics and science concepts using MINDS-i robotics technology.

The MINDS-i patented system of quick-lock construction elements empowers students to create, modify, re-create, program and power-up their inventions to race, climb, battle, and perform simple and complex tasks. Discover Technology will provide both an instructor and robotics kits for the program.

The UB students will build and program a robot that accelerates up to 30 mph, tackles tough terrain and still handles delicate tasks. They will use graphic and ‘C’ programming language to make these powerful machines meet all types of challenges.

Students will work daily at the University of Idaho classrooms on the NIC Campus to construct their robot, working in teams to assemble control and drive systems, calculate RPM and voltage output, assemble and calculate solar power generation and storage, and performing ongoing problem solving as they adapt their lunar rovers.

The program culminates July 1 with Team Presentations. Students will describe what they have constructed and the mathematic and engineering decisions that led them to their programming results. In addition, teams with their robots, will compete against each other in a navigational challenge.

For more information on Discover Technology, visit For more information about the Silver Valley Upward Bound program, contact Marcee Hartzell at For more information about the Upward Bound Math/Science program, contact Kirsten Lapaglia at
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit