■ FIGURE 3. What a nice sight! One of my
biggest fears was that I would lose BalloonSats
and end up not having enough data (students)
to complete my study.
• Correplast square.
• Plastic tubes.
• Plastic lid.
• Visible light blocking filter.
• Thin colored tape.
• Programming cable.
■ FIGURE 2. This is one of the student BalloonSats.
It's a six inch cube with a temperature and relative
humidity sensor on top (under the plastic lid) and
a digital camera looking out the right side.
must first demonstrate that they can increase younger
student’s attitudes before they can prove that they are
effective at teaching content. I therefore decided to use
the Test of Science Related Attitudes (TOSRA) by Dr. Barry
Fraser to investigate student attitudes toward science.
TOSRA is a survey of 70 statements that investigates seven
student attitudes toward science. Students respond to
each statement using a five point scale ranging from
strongly disagree to strongly agree (in what is known as a
Likert scale). The TOSRA survey generates scores for the
following seven categories of attitude toward science:
1. The social implications of science.
2. The normality of scientists.
3. Attitude toward scientific inquiry.
4. The adoption of scientific attitudes.
5. The enjoyment of science lessons.
6. Leisure interest in science.
7. Career interest in science.
The BalloonSat mini kit is a PICAXE-08M2-based
programmable datalogger. Students programmed it to
record up to 256 analog voltage readings, digitize two
analog sensors, and trigger a modified digital camera.
The sensor kit included the following items:
• Three temperature sensors.
• One relative humidity sensor.
• An LED-based photometer with red, green, yellow,
and IR LEDs (based on Forrest Mims’ design).
By the end of March, I was receiving student
BalloonSats in the mail. After they arrived, I tethered the
BalloonSats to the APRS tracking modules and the
recovery parachute. The next morning, I launched the
BalloonSats using either a 1,000 or 1,500 gram weather
balloon. The four flights were required to launch all the
BalloonSats, and they reached altitudes ranging from
66,400 to 83,800 feet. No BalloonSats were lost, but I did
re-fly a few because of the balloon’s poor performance.
ANALYZING THE DATA
Before I could begin my investigation, I first needed to
design a BalloonSat kit. Each participating classroom
received a kit of parts containing the following items:
• BalloonSat mini flight computer kit.
• Sensor kit.
• Modified digital camera.
• Selection of Styrofoam squares, six inches on a side
with various thicknesses.
16 September 2012
There were two groups in this study: the experimental
group that built a BalloonSat and a control group that did
not. Teachers permitted each student to select the group
they joined, so there was no random assignment of
students to groups (which is the gold standard of
research). Looking over the scores of student attitudes, it
was obvious that students who chose not to build a
BalloonSat had lower average attitudes toward science