To help further the goal of incorporating more near space
into STEM-related classes, I have
traveled to many schools, summer
camps, and teacher workshops
where instructors learn and students
experience. It’s the reason I visited
the University of Nebraska Omaha
from July 7 -11, 2015. While there, I
had a great time and got to help five
Nebraska science teachers learn the
ropes about near space.
The UNO Aerospace Educator
Workshop is an annual summer
science class for current and soon-to-be Nebraska teachers. At the three-week workshop, teachers spend one
week exploring near space, a second
week exploring aviation, and a final
week doing projects that include
developing an aerospace lesson plan.
Participants completing the workshop
have a stronger understanding of
aerospace in terms of science and
engineering, and how to incorporate
aerospace into their classrooms. As
you can imagine, I was there to help
with the near space side.
My partner in crime was Mark
Conner N9XTN, a meteorologist
working with the US Air Force and a
good friend going back to 1998.
Mark insures that the near space
launch, chase, and recovery will go
according to plan. He does this by
running flight predictions, predicting
weather during the flight, locating
launch sites, and rounding up launch
and chase help. He also kicks off the
High Altitude Balloon week with a
presentation on near space.
I arrived on campus Wednesday
The BalloonSat — or functioning model of satellites lofted by weather
balloons into near space — is a fantastic STEM activity for students of all
ages. However, if students are going to have this opportunity in the
classroom, their teachers first need to know how to design, build, test,
and fly BalloonSats. That’s why I visited the University of Nebraska
Omaha last summer.
■ BY L. PAUL VERHAGE NEAR SPACE
Showing Teachers One Way to
Incorporate Near Space
46 December 2015
Students can record images like this when
teachers give them a BalloonSat experience.
The data their BalloonSat will collect is
astounding when you consider that near space
looks and feels like outer space and IS far
above the altitude of airplanes.
Nebraska science teachers hard at work measuring
and configuring their avionics. Teachers selected
their sensor and camera, which then influenced the
design and goal of their BalloonSat. It’s easier to
dream up new ideas and correct mistakes in design
while it’s still on paper.