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  What's in a Name: For Kids It's a Place in History

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Author Topic:   What's in a Name: For Kids It's a Place in History
Robert Pearlman
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Press Release Source: LEGO Company

NASA Invites Students to Take Active Part in Upcoming Mars Mission With 'Name The Rovers' Contest

NEW YORK, Nov. 4 -- No child has ever blasted into orbit, but now American children have a chance to do the next best thing. Beginning today, LEGO announced that kids can actually compete to name two spacecraft that will be sent to Mars as part of NASA's upcoming Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. The "Name the Rovers" contest, managed by The LEGO Company and The Planetary Society in conjunction with NASA, provides students the unbelievable opportunity to suggest a name for the two Mars-bound rovers, temporarily known as MER-A and MER-B, which are slated to launch respectively in June and July2003, and land on Mars in January/February 2004.

"The LEGO Company is dedicated to furthering hands-on, minds-on discovery, playful learning, and the boundless frontiers of imagination. Space exploration also embraces these qualities -- which is why the LEGO Company is so pleased to partner with NASA," says Brad Justus, Senior Vice President of LEGO Company. "By involving children actively in the Mars' missions through the 'Name the Rovers' contest and with other related activities, we hope to help excite and inspire the next generation of space explorers."

"We are very excited about providing students with an opportunity to actively participate in the next mission to Mars," says Dave Lavery, Program Executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters. "We are eagerly looking for some really creative and innovative ideas from the students as they compete to name the next Mars rovers and become part of history."

The Name the Rovers Contest is open to all students 5 to 18 years of age who are in grades K-12 in the U.S. Submissions must include suggested names for both rovers and a 50-500 word essay justifying why the students believe the names should be chosen. It is intended that the Grand Prize winner's entry will be used to name the Mars Rovers. In addition, the Grand Prize includes a 4-day/3-night expenses-paid trip for four to witness one of the launches of the newly named rovers at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Students can suggest names taken from mythology, fiction, or history. "In order to succeed, students must not only suggest excellent names, but also justify and argue for those names in their essays," said Bruce Betts, Director of Projects for The Planetary Society. "As such, the contest requires research, critical thought, and strong writing skills by the students, leading to a deeper educational experience."

The contest is open for submissions beginning today through January 31, 2003. NASA will announce the contest winners prior to the launch of the rovers in the spring of 2003.

Name the Rovers Contest Details

The Name the Rovers contest is easy to enter. Entries will be divided into three age groups: 5-7, 8-12, and 13-18 which will have its own age-appropriate requirements. Each submitted essay will be judged on originality, the quality of the essay, including justification for the names, and how the names best embody the spirit of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. Names associated with trademarked items, names of living persons, or names used on previous NASA spacecraft will not be considered.

The Planetary Society and LEGO Company have additional connection to NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission with their recently announced Red Rover Goes to Mars project (www.redrovergoestomars.org) which will select students from around the world to work in mission operations at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Students can send submissions in a variety of ways. Kids over age 13 can use an Online Entry Form located at the contest web site at www.nametherovers.org. If under age 13, kids must download and print the Official Entry Form and submit by mail. Completed entries must be sent to: NASA Name the Rovers Contest Entries, P.O. Box 4419, Blair, NE 68009-4419.

About The LEGO Company

The LEGO Company, based in Billund, Denmark, and family-owned and privately held since 1932, is a world leader in providing quality products and experiences that stimulate children's creativity, imagination and learning. For more information visit www.lego.com.

About NASA

The Mars Exploration Rover mission is managed for the Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C., by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The MER rovers will be the next launches in NASA's Mars Exploration Program, which includes a series of orbiting spacecraft as well as landers and rovers with long-term goals of understanding the role of water throughout the history of the red planet, and searching for signs of past or present life there. More information is available at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov

About The Planetary Society

Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the search for extraterrestrial life. With members in over 125 countries, the Society is the largest space interest group in the world.

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