The Future Is Now

Mars rover replica built by young sisters

Future is now Videos

Mars Rover Replica Built By Teen Sisters

Mars Rover Replica Built By Teen Sisters

Mars Rover Replica Built By Teen Sisters

Now watching

Next video starts in : 7 Play

Mars Rover Replica Built By Teen Sisters

Mars Rover Replica Built By Teen Sisters
Replay video
Up next

Tall and Slender: The World's Skinniest Skyscraper

Tall and Slender: The World's Skinniest Skyscraper Up next

Tall and Slender: The World's Skinniest Skyscraper

There's no stopping these two science sisters.

Meet Camille and Genevieve Beatty, who at 13 and 11 are being hailed for building a functioning scale model of the Mars rover that is now a permanent fixture at the famed New York Hall of Science.

The Beatty rover is a near replica of the early version NASA sent to Mars in 2004 and was unveiled in early August with hoopla that's made the red-headed North Carolina siblings science rock stars.

"To have two young girls building our Mars rover is exactly the kind of thing we want to have happen here," said Margaret Honey, president and CEO of the science center that sits on the grounds of the 1964 Worlds Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the borough of Queens.

The girls' drive to build their rover was inspired by a documentary on the robotic exploration of the Red Planet.

But their love of science all started with a little "destructive curiosity," says their father, Robert Beatty, who guided their enthusiasm for engineering.

"Camille kept taking things apart. She would bring me a dismantled remote-control box or a dismantled clock, and she’d say, ‘Dad, what’s this little green thing in here.’”

He didn’t have all the answers, but he was intrigued by her curiosity and asked if she wanted to build something herself.

You bet they did.

From remote controls . . . to robots

Then life in the Beatty household started to get interesting. The sisters went from taking things apart to putting things together.

"We would just experiment," said Camille. "We started small, using off-the-shelf RadioShack parts. Then we decided let's go huge with it . . . and build a robot!"

[Related: Kids get hands-on with robots at this Brooklyn business]

Over the course of two years, the Beatty family built several robots — ones that could roll, crawl and even fly.

The family also built a website chronicling the girls' robot-making adventures. Initially meant to keep family and friends up to date on various projects, the Beatty Robotics site quickly gained a following.

From North Carolina . . . to the Big Apple

Even the folks at the New York Hall of Science were impressed. They were already planning to redo the Mars exhibit when they decided to commission the girls and their dad.

"We didn't set out to look for two girls to build our Mars rover. We were actually looking for companies that had robotics expertise," said Honey.

The Beatty girls' Mars rover isn't a toy or a model. It's a remarkable working version with more than 750 parts, many of them built by the family from scratch. It has rotating wheels and sensors that keep it from bumping into walls. It also has a high-tech suspension system that allows it to grapple with rough terrain.

"We studied the actual rover very closely," their father said. "The pictures, the drawings. ... We did everything we could to replicate it in every way."

[Related: More evidence that ancient Mars could support life found by old rover]

A family that builds robots . . .

What's the secret to keeping children’s interest in longer-term projects? A former mechanical engineer, Robert Beatty believes in sparking the girls’ interest but letting them do all the work.

"They get the screwdriver or soldering iron. They are doing the work and so stay very engaged."

He says the experience has had a very positive role in the girls' lives outside the workshop, as well.

"One of my main goals in this was to give them a sense of self-empowerment. If they set up a goal, they can go and do it — whether it’s a job, climbing a mountain or building a robot."

The best part about building robots? Spending time with their dad. "It's made our bond amazingly close, between all of us," Camille said.

Follow Sheila Dharmarajan on Twitter @SheilaD_TV.
View Comments (72)

Recommended for You

  • Man sentenced to life with no parole walks free in Missouri

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man sentenced to life in prison without parole on a marijuana-related charge was freed Tuesday from a Missouri prison after being behind bars for two decades — a period in which the nation's attitudes toward pot have steadily softened.

    Associated Press44 mins ago
  • This year's El Nino weather pattern could be strongest on record: experts

    By Tom Miles GENEVA (Reuters) - The current El Nino weather phenomenon is expected peak between October and January and could turn into one of the strongest on record, experts from the World Meteorological Organization said at a news conference on Tuesday. Climate models and experts suggest surface…

    Reuters47 mins ago
  • Police officer shot after responding to wrong home

    ATLANTA (AP) — A police officer was shot and critically wounded Monday when he responded to a call of a suspicious person and showed up at the wrong house, authorities said.

    Associated Press
  • U.S. court denies $2 million legal fees to conservatives in voting rights case

    By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday denied $2 million in legal fees sought from the federal government by conservative lawyers who persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 to strike down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Court of…

  • Play

    Baby girl recovering from crash that killed her parents

    A baby girl survived a crash in Fresno County, Calif., that killed her parents.

    WPVI – Philadelphia
  • Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announces she's pregnant with twins

    As with the birth of her son three years ago, Mayer writes that she plans to limit the amount of maternity leave she takes.

  • Iran clothing with US, British flags sparks arrests

    Iranian police have arrested merchants for selling clothing that featured the flags of the United States and Britain, two longtime foes of the Islamic republic, local media reported Tuesday. Garments imprinted with "Satanic symbols" were also seized from stores in Tehran, city police chief General…

  • 2016 Best Colleges Preview: Top 10 Best Value Schools

    For the majority of prospective college students and their families, cost is a major factor in determining which schools are viable options. Knowing which schools are best buys -- which colleges provide the highest quality education for the lowest price -- is imperative.

    U.S.News & World Report
  • Woman Becoming Nun Needs Friend's Interest, Not Concern

    DEAR ABBY: I was best friends with "Joanne" after we met in middle school. She comes from a conservative Christian family and has three successful siblings. This has made her quirky, media-driven pursuits and city life a disappointment to her family. When we were teens and she learned that I was a…

    Dear Abby
  • Sheriff: Suspect kills mother, stepfather, grandmother

    Outfitted in camouflage and armed with a high-powered rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition, Robert Seth Denton fatally shot his mother, stepfather and grandmother while six children witnessed the carnage in the family's double-wide mobile home in eastern Tennessee, a sheriff said Monday.

    Associated Press
  • Why an Ohio Judge Is Using Unusual Punishments to Keep People Out of Jail

    From making a man wear a chicken suit to having a woman get sprayed in the face by what she thought was pepper spray, Judge Michael Cicconetti has become a viral sensation for his unique method of sentencing. Just last month, the municipal court judge got international attention for giving…

    ABC News
  • Sword-wielding Patel crusader threatens Modi's 'model' in India

    By Rupam Jain Nair AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) - A sword-wielding 22-year-old activist has emerged overnight as the most pressing political threat to Narendra Modi, accusing the Indian prime minister of breaking a promise to provide jobs that helped him win last year's general election. Hardik…

  • #1 Reason Not To Buy A New Computer

    Find out the real reason behind slow computers!

  • Women are not getting treated for menopausal symptoms

    By Roxanne Nelson (Reuters Health) - Many women with severe menopausal symptoms are not being treated for them even though safe, effective remedies are available, a study from Australia suggests. The findings may be applicable to other countries, too, according to senior author Dr. Susan R. Davis…

  • Video of Israeli soldier arresting boy becomes latest in war of perception

    A soldier pins a boy down and is assaulted by his family: The scene might have gone unnoticed if not for footage that has turned it into another weapon in the Israel-Palestinian war of perception. Palestinians see it as proof of Israel's abuses in the occupied West Bank, while many Israelis say the…

  • Note These Red Flags When Touring Medical Schools

    Every medical school wishes to impress potential students, but not every program will be right for you. While issues such as location and cost can be identified through a school's written or electronic materials, there are three red flags that you should keep in mind as you tour and evaluate your…

    U.S.News & World Report
  • Daughter Deep In Debt Needs Counseling, Not More Money

    DEAR ABBY: Three years ago I gave my adult daughter, married with a child, more than $16,000 to help pay off her debts because she couldn't pay her bills. She and her husband maintain separate accounts, which I find odd. He pays certain expenses; she pays others. Now I find she's deep in debt again…

    Dear Abby
  • Investigators: Arizona woman acknowledges drowning twin sons

    PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona woman told investigators that she drowned her 2-year-old twin sons and tried to kill her 3-year-old stepbrother in the same way because she didn't want them to live with the difficulties she faces.

    Associated Press