Tag Archives: stem

Near-Space Ballooning County Institute Session

My colleague and I, who advise our school’s Physics Club, volunteered to share our our experiences over the past two years designing, launching, and retrieving near-space balloons. Last year’s balloon reached an altitude of over 100,000 feet and captured amazing photos, video, and temperature and radiation data. We discussed the technologies involved in near-space ballooning such as GPS receivers, microcontrollers, programmable cameras, and sensors. We also shared different approaches to designing near-space balloons that fit a variety of budgets. Finally, we discussed this year’s project in which younger students are designing and building experiments to be launched as part of this spring’s balloon launch.

The slides we presented are below as is our handout with links to various resources. This is a fantastic project for a group of students to tackle. If you decide to try to launch a balloon, please feel free to contact me.

Download (PDF, 7.85MB)

Download (PDF, 37KB)

Resources for Middle School Science Activities

When I visited National Instruments and [shared my experiences with STEM in high school](https://pedagoguepadawan.net/164/stem-talk-at-ni/), a talked to a few friends who were involved in various types of science programs for middle school youth. They were interested in activities they could use to help develop fundamental scientific understandings (such as scale) as well as be engaging and provide an opportunity to learn about various phenomena. I don’t have any experience at the middle school level, but I reviewed the various projects that I’ve done (or hope to do) with high school students either in class or as part of Physics Club.

If you have a few favorite activities that would be appropriate for these students, please leave a comment. I’ll pass along a link to this post to my friends back in Austin.

Science and Engineering Projects

* [Naked Egg Drop](http://noschese180.posterous.com/day-68-naked-egg-drop)
* [Blinkie LED kits (learn to solder)](http://www.2dkits.com/zencart/)
* [Compressed Air Rockets](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/10/how-to-compressed-air-rockets.html)
* [Hovercraft](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/06/some-assembly-required-leaf-blower-hovercraft.html)
* [Brushbots](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/05/in-the-makershed-brushbots.html)
* [Bristlebot](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2007/12/how-to-make-a-bristlebot.html)
* [Camerphone spectrometer](http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/10/in-high-school-chem-labs-every-camera-phone-can-be-a-spectrometer/)
* [Glow sticks](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/07/how-to_make_glow_sticks.html)
* [Vortex cannon](http://www.make-digital.com/make/vol15/#pg116)
* [Simple Laser Communicator](http://www.make-digital.com/make/vol16/#pg1)
* [Paper Plate Speakers](http://www.josepino.com/circuits/index.php?howto-speaker.jpc)
* [Tweet-a-Watt](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/01/tweetawatt_our_entry_for_the_core77.html?CMP=OTC-0D6B48984890)
* [Homopolar Motor](http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/07/homopolar_motor_from_make_volume_01.html?CMP=OTC-0D6B48984890)
* [Holograms](http://www.integraf.com/a-simple_holography.htm)
* [Cosmic Ray Cloud Chamber](http://quarknet.fnal.gov/resources/QN_CloudChamberV1_4.pdf)


* [Secret Worlds: The Universe Within](http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/)
* [Building a sense of scale in the classroom](http://quantumprogress.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/building-a-sense-of-scale-in-the-classroom/)
* [The Scale (and Limits) of the Universe](http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2010/10/the_scale_and_limits_of_the_un.php)
* [Scale of the Universe](http://primaxstudio.com/stuff/scale_of_universe/)
* [The Universe by Orders of Magnitude](http://freshphotons.tumblr.com/post/1255372595/natarie-badass)

Citizen Science

* [scistarter](http://scistarter.com/index.html)
* [Scientific American’s Citizen Science Initiative](http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=welcome-to-scientific-americans-cit-2011-05-02)

Great resources:

* [MAKE Magazine](http://www.makezine.com/)
* [Howtoons](http://www.howtoons.com/)
* [QuarkNet](http://quarknet.fnal.gov/)
* [Science Olympiad](http://soinc.com/)