Engage schools in ExoMars Rover Zone!

ExoMars Rover Zone is an online STEM engagement activity funded by the UK Space Agency. The activity connects engineers, scientists, technicians and other people behind the ExoMars mission with UK school students.

Teams involved in the mission development are invited to sign up and answer online questions from schools between January and July 2020. ExoMars Rover Zone is based on the award-winning I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer format of online STEM engagement.


The activity was amazing and I would highly recommend taking part… It is such a unique way of communicating STEM ideas to students in an informal setting

Lauren, engineer

Taking part is an enjoyable and easy way to get involved in STEM engagement in the lead up to the planned launch of the Rosalind Franklin Rover. You’ll develop communication skills and gain a fresh perspective on your work, while showing students that working on space exploration missions could be something ‘for them’ too.

Why take part

Working in space is not a universal dream. It depends on who you are. For example, primary school age girls are 3 times less likely to want to be an astronaut than boys (Drawing The Future report, UCL/ Education & Employers). Research shows ethnic background, geographical location and parental perceptions are all important influences on students’ views on STEM careers (ASPIRES report, KCL).

Space missions like the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover and the Trace Gas Orbiter have huge media coverage and engineers make hundreds of school visits each year. But many students won’t see themselves in the role models presented by media or ever get the chance to meet the actual engineers involved due to their location.

The ExoMars Rover Zone will show students the breadth of real people who work in space exploration, helping them feel that a career in space can be ‘for them’.

Priority for places is given to schools located further from universities or defined as Widening Participation to ensure the majority of students are under-served by other STEM engagement.

How it works

Everything happens online so it’s easy for you and your team to be involved right from your desk or smartphone and at times that suit your schedules.

Teams put up a profile on this site, answer students’ questions about ExoMars, their other work, science and engineering in general, the universe and beyond. They engage directly with students in live text-based chats. Students vote for their favourite team to win £500 to spend on further public engagement.

Activity schedule and format

The ExoMars Rover Zone website is open from 6th January to 10th July 2020. During this time, members of your team respond to online questions sent in by school students each week and attend text-based ‘live chat’ sessions with classes.

These chat sessions are booked by the schools and you are sent the list in advance so you can decide which ones a member of your team is able to do.

Teams eligibility

There is space for at least 6 teams in the ExoMars Zone, each with 2-6 people per team. 3 places are reserved for UK-based teams, and we welcome teams from any country.

The activity shows students the variety of careers related to space engineering, so is open to any team from your workplace that has been involved with the ExoMars Mission, whether from industry or academia, for example:

  • Rosalind Franklin engineering teams
  • instrument development teams
  • landing site selection teams
  • autonomous systems testing teams
  • ESA mission management teams
  • Trace Gas Orbiter teams

If you’d like to check your eligibility, contact antony@mangorol.la.

The questions students ask

In the ASK section, students will ask lots of questions about your work on ExoMars and your daily life. They will also question you on anything else they are interested in, from robots to pizza toppings.

All questions are moderated, to remove duplicate questions, as well as rude or offensive ones. The variety of questions and reactions from students are key to the benefits people get from taking part.

Live CHATs with classes

Live CHATs last 30 minutes; they are text-based, fast paced and fun. They are typically booked by schools to happen between 0900 and 1500 GMT, Monday to Friday.

We limit the chats to 7 a week, but usually there will be fewer. Taking part in a team means whoever is free can attend, but we don’t expect all teams to attend every CHAT. Try to share out the CHATS to different team members so everyone can have a go regularly.

Evening Live CHATs will also take place twice a month to allow families to join their children in talking to you.

Time needed

Time commitment is flexible and the format is designed so you and your team members can fit taking part into your normal schedule as much as possible.

For example, a typical week might involve team members attending one or two Live CHAT sessions each, and spending an hour answering questions in the ASK section.

Equipment needed

All that’s needed is a computer with internet access. The live CHATs are text-based (no video or audio needed) and run through this site. Find out more about why it’s a text-focused format.

Monthly updates

At the start of each month, each team will post a short update for students on what they’ve been working on recently.  This doesn’t always need to relate to ExoMars and will give students new ideas of what to ask you so you have varied questions to answer each month.

Prize money for STEM projects

The students will be voting for their favourite team. The winning team at the end of July receives £500 to be spent on a STEM engagement project, e.g. school visits, engineer fair exhibits, videos or podcasts, blogs, arranging class visits to your lab.

This project can be run by your company or institution or donated somewhere else doing good things.  Check out how past winners have spent their money