Make a Balloon-powered Nanorover

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In this activity, learners build a nanorover model using styrofoam meat trays and a balloon. This activity includes information about the MUSES-CN nanorover and the need for a very small rover to explore an asteroid called Nereus.

Quick Guide

Learning Time:

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per student)

  • Three large styrofoam meat trays (at least 9 x 11 inches)
  • Ruler
  • Four flexible plastic drinking straws
  • Three small (10-inch) bamboo skewers (for making shish-ka-bobs)
  • Seven pea-sized blobs of clay or Play-doh©, or seven small gum drops
  • One large wire paper clip
  • One small (7-inch) party balloon
  • One small rubber band
  • Transparent tape (not the removable kind)
  • Printed pattern, decals, and wheel treads (all on 2 sheets of paper)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
    • Solar System
      • Asteroids and Comets
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Gravity
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Toys
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities