Kids Talk Radio Vietnam

The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure Project

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We need your help growing food for Mars


We have the supper seeds and we are sharing them with students.  Our job is to find teachers and students in Ireland to help with our space science experiments.   We are involving students in grades K-12 and at the college level.  A team of California educators, business and community members will be visiting Ireland from June 2-13, 2018.  We will be talking about new grant programs and creative ways to collaborate from California to Dublin and beyond. We are involved in the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures Fellowship Program.  This is all about getting students excited about Mars.  For more information contact



Martian agriculture challenges

Martian soil is devoid of the nutrients found in Earth’s soil, and it is also fine, meaning water would likely seep through it much more quickly than it would on Earth. Using human poop or other fertilizers could provide a quick boost of nutrients, such as nitrogen, and may also change the texture of the soil so it would cling to water longer, said Sokoloff, who was a crewmember last year at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah.Earthly soil gets its nitrogen from the atmosphere, though atmospheric nitrogen is in a form that is not easy for plants to use. To transform nitrogen into a better “food” for plants, bacteria “fix” it.

“On Earth, a lot of nitrogen in our soil is fixed by bacteria that reside in the roots of various plants, like legumes,” Sokoloff told Live Science. “In the long term, you would want a way to fix nitrogen to the soil there.”

Martian soil is also laced with nasty chemicals called perchlorates, which would have to be chemically removed for plants to grow there, Sokoloff said.

And then there’s gravity. Mars has about one-third the gravity of Earth. Though experiments have shown that some plants can grow relatively normally in microgravity on the International Space Station (ISS), there’s really no way to mimic the “gravity-lite” of the Red Planet.

“Plants use gravity as a way of orienting themselves, so some plant species may or may not be confused,” Sokoloff said.

For instance, willow seedlings taken up to the ISS grew twisted because, in microgravity, they never developed their orienting “root-shoot axis,” Sokoloff said.

A 2014 study in the journal PLOS ONE showed that tomatoes, wheat, cress and mustard leaves grew particularly well, and even flowered and produced seeds, in simulated Martian soil for 50 days, without any fertilizers. In fact, these hardy plants grew even better in Martian soil or “regolith” than in nutrient-poor river soil from Earth. [7 Theories on the Origin of Life]

To determine what food ingredients to actually bring to Mars, scientists must balance trade-offs among the nutritional density of a crop, the resources required to grow them and the germination time. Scientists may be growing lettuce on the ISS as a demonstration, but “man cannot live on lettuce alone,” Sokoloff said.

Instead, people have suggested crops such as radishes and strawberries as better Martian snacks, he said. (Number crunchers have determined it would actually require less fuel to simply send over premade foods, rather than the ingredients for farming, for initial short-term visits, Sokoloff said.)

Simulating Martian conditions

Before the Martian farming project gets going, humans would need to know a lot more about how plants will grow. That’s part of the reasoning behind simulations of the Martian environment, such as the Mars Desert Research Station.

Scientists there have grown everything from native desert plants to barley and hops in the station’s simulated Martian soil. The soil, called Johnson Space Center Simulant I, is produced using Earthling rocks and soil based on Martian soil samples from 1970s-era Viking landers.

And researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada are growing plants in low-pressure, or hypobaric chambers to mimic the thin atmosphere of Mars. The team exposes plants to a host of rough conditions — including varying levels of carbon dioxide, pressure, heat, light, nutrition and humidity — to see which plants are hardy enough to survive Martian conditions outside a self-contained, air-controlled greenhouse, The Star peported.

Greening the Red Planet?

Growing plants out in the Martian elements, and not in a temperature- and air-controlled greenhouse, would be much more challenging, Sokoloff said.

“Some people have said we should make Mars more like Earth,” Sokoloff said. “That’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s in the realm of science fiction, for sure.”

And even if people decided it’s ethically acceptable to “terraform” Mars, it would be hundreds of years before the thin Martian atmosphere could be transformed into an oxygen-rich cradle for life.

To build up that atmosphere, explorers would need to seed Martian soil chock-full of  oxygen-producing cyanobacteria, lichens and microbes, and it would take hundreds of years for them to produce enough oxygen and nitrogen for an atmosphere. That’s still not too shabby, considering it took hundreds of millions of years for Earth’s oxygen levels to stabilize. (People could conceivably eat the cyanobacteria in the meantime, though the tiny organisms are not noted for their tastiness, Sokoloff said.)

While the microbes were busy creating an atmosphere, solar wind would constantly be blowing that atmosphere away, because Mars lacks a magnetosphere (a magnetic field to shield the planet from solar radiation), he said.

Even if people could figure out how to generate atmosphere faster than it dissipated, Martian winters can be a bone-chilling minus 207 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 133 degrees Celsius). It’s possible that people could tailor an atmosphere with greenhouse gases that trap heat, but Mars is simply farther from the sun than Earth is, so it would still likely be colder than our planet on average, Sokoloff said.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitterand Google+. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.


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Robots in the Classroom

In Finnish experiment, robots teach language and math classes



Students use a language trainer robot, Ellias, during their lesson at the school in Tampere, Finland March 27, 2017.

Credit: Attila Cser/Reuters

Elias, the new language teacher at a Finnish primary school, has endless patience for repetition, never makes a pupil feel embarrassed for asking a question and can even do the “Gangnam Style” dance.

Elias is also a robot.

The language-teaching machine comprises a humanoid robot and mobile application, one of four robots in a pilot program at primary schools in the southern city of Tampere.

The robot is able to understand and speak 23 languages and is equipped with software that allows it to understand students’ requirements and helps it to encourage learning. In this trial however, it communicates in English, Finnish and German only.

The robot recognizes the pupil’s skill levels and adjusts its questions accordingly. It also gives feedback to teachers about a student’s possible problems.

Some of the human teachers who have worked with the technology see it as a new way to engage children in learning.

“I think in the new curriculum the main idea is to get the kids involved and get them motivated and make them active. I see Elias as one of the tools to get different kinds of practice and different kinds of activities into the classroom,” language teacher Riikka Kolunsarka told Reuters.

“In that sense I think robots and coding the robots and working with them is definitely something that is according to the new curriculum and something that we teachers need to be open minded about.”

Elias the language robot, which stands around a foot tall, is based on SoftBank’s NAO humanoid interactive companion robot, with software developed by Utelias, a developer of educational software for social robots.

The math robot — dubbed OVObot — is a small, blue machine around 10 inches high and resembles an owl, and was developed by Finnish AI Robots.

The purpose of the pilot project is to see if these robots can improve the quality of teaching, with one of the Elias robots and three of the OVObots deployed in schools. The OVObots will be trialled for one year, while the school has bought the Elias robot, so its use can continue longer.

Using robots in classrooms is not new — teaching robots have been used in the Middle East, Asia and the United States in recent years, but modern technologies such as cloud services and 3D printing are allowing smaller start-up companies to enter the sector.

“Well, it is fun, interesting and exciting and I’m a bit shocked,” pupil Abisha Jinia told Reuters, giving her verdict on Elias the language robot.

Despite their skills in language and mathematics however, the robots’ inability to maintain discipline amongst a class of primary school children means that, for the time being at least, the human teachers’ jobs are safe.

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We need designers

36 Student Teams Roll on to URC 2018 Finals

From a record field of 95 student teams, the University Rover Challenge (URC) has announced the 36 team finalists from 10 countries which have been selected to compete May 31 – June 2 at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah.  [To watch the official video announcement (produced courtesy of Protocase), please click here.]

Teams previously passed a Preliminary Design Review milestone, and most recently passed an extremely competitive System Acceptance Review milepost. Vehicles competing at the URC finals will face four extremely difficult tasks involving their Mars rovers: 1) The Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, 2) The Equipment Servicing Task, 3) The Autonomous Traversal Task, and 4) The Science Cache Task.  These events challenge teams to design and build highly capable robotic systems able to traverse extreme and aggressive terrain, perform maintenance on critical field equipment and conduct meaningful field science.

Now in its 12th year, URC has challenged hundreds of teams and thousands of students from around the world through this unique multi-disciplinary educational event.  In recent years URC’s parent organization, the Mars Society, has formed the Rover Challenge Series (RCS), which features similar competitions around the world aimed at developing the next generation of talented and ambitious leaders in engineering, science and space exploration.

The Mars Society would like to express its appreciation to URC’s primary sponsor – Protocase – for once again producing this year’s video announcement. As always, we would also like to thank Kevin Sloan, our long-time URC Director, and his staff of volunteers for all of their hard work in planning and coordinating this important scientific competition.

A full review of this year’s University Rover Challenge will be presented at the 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention (August 23-26) in Pasadena, California. Register onlinetoday to take advantage of ‘Early Bird’ ticket rates.

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Vietnam we need your help with the Nao and Pepper Robots






Pepper is a humanoid robot manufactured by SoftBank Robotics (formerly Aldebaran Robotics), which is owned by SoftBank, designed with the ability to read emotions. It was introduced in a conference on 5 June 2014, and was showcased in Softbank mobile phone stores in Japan beginning the next day.  Pepper’s emotion comes from the ability to analyze expressions and voice tones.Pepper was launched in the UK in 2016 and there are currently two versions available.


The robot’s head has four microphones, two HD cameras (in the mouth and forehead), and a 3-D depth sensor (behind the eyes). There is a gyroscope in the torso and touch sensors in the head and hands. The mobile base has two sonars, six lasers, three bumper sensors, and a gyroscope.[4]

It is able to run the existing content in the app store designed for Aldebaran’s other robot, Nao.


Pepper is not a functional robot for domestic use. Instead, Pepper is intended “to make people happy”, enhance people’s lives, facilitate relationships, have fun with people and connect people with the outside world.[5] Pepper’s creators hope that independent developers will create new content and uses for Pepper.[6]

Pepper is currently being used as a receptionist at several offices in the UK and is able to identify visitors with the use of facial recognition, send alerts for meeting organisers and arrange for drinks to be made. Pepper is said to be able to chat to prospective clients.

The robot has also been employed at banks and medical facilities in Japan, using applications created by Seikatsu Kakumei. and is also employed at all Hamazushi restaurants in Japan.

Action Research

Teachers, engineers and scientists working at the Barboza Space Center are working on new training materials for the Nao and Pepper robots.  We are getting ready to work with students with special needs. Our students with autism will be in the first round of our action research projects.

Graphic Organizers for Robot Programs

We are training our students and teachers using custom software and graphic organizers designed for the Nao and Pepper robots.

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Robot Programs for Gifted and Talented Students

The STEAM++ (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign languages), the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures project-based learning and space science summer fellowships, and robot building will continue in 2018.  We invite you to follow our photo essays.

Contact Information

Bob Barboza, Founder/Director

Barboza Space Center

Long Beach, California, USA

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