Disney/Pixar is currently running a contest for children in grades K-12 in the U.S. (ages 5 -18) to Name NASA's Next Mars Rover! This new rover is scheduled to launch in 2011 and (hopefully!) will land the following year. You can visit NASA to Learn About the Rover, including its robotic arm, legs, laser, and wheels. Be sure to read the Quick Facts (this is a .pdf file) to discover tidbits like these:
* The rover's laser can turn rocks into a cloud of vapor.
* The rover may be the size of a small SUV, but it weighs nearly 2000 pounds!
* The rover looks just a little bit like WALL-E.
If you win the grand prize, you not only win a trip to both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory AND Disneyland, you also get a bunch of WALL-E stuff including a robot! Nine finalists and thirty semi-finalists will also win some cool WALL-E gear, so if you are a fan of the movie, you should definitely enter. (My older son was excited that we found Disney/Pixar's WALL-E online games).
The contest has three grade level categories (K-3, 4-7, 8-12) and you have to write a short essay along with your suggested name. There are certain restrictions on the names you can suggest (no copyrighted names, no names of anyone living, no names used on other space missions), so read the rules carefully. You also have to get your parent or guardian's permission to enter. The contest deadline is January 25, 2009, so start writing! (Gee, I wish I could enter!!)