The ROVer Ranch is an interactive computer program designed to help secondary-school students learn about space-program robotics and related basic scientific concepts by involving the students in simplified design and programming tasks that exercise skills in mathematics and science. The tasks involve building simulated robots and then observing how they behave. The program furnishes (1) programming tools that a student can use to assemble and program a simulated robot and (2) a virtual three-dimensional mission simulator for testing the robot. First, the ROVer Ranch presents fundamental information about robotics, mission goals, and facts about the mission environment. On the basis of this information, and using the aforementioned tools, the student assembles a robot by selecting parts from such subsystems as propulsion, navigation, and scientific tools, the student builds a simulated robot to accomplish its mission. Once the robot is built, it is programmed and then placed in a three-dimensional simulated environment. Success or failure in the simulation depends on the planning and design of the robot. Data and results of the mission are available in a summary log once the mission is concluded.
This program was written by Robert O. Shelton of Johnson Space Center, Stephanie L. Smith of LinCom, and Dat Truong and Terry R. Hodgson of Science Applications International Corp. For further information, contact the Johnson Commercial Technology Office at (281) 483-3809.