Space balloons provide educational opportunity

Northwest Tri-Cty IU 5  |  Posted on

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to or launch something into what some scientists consider outer space? The Applied Curriculum team at the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit (IU5) does just that with learners at all levels. Through collaborative efforts with local school districts in Crawford, Erie and Warren counties, IU5 has sent over 20 space balloons into the stratosphere and troposphere and reached altitudes of over 100,000 feet! Our space balloon project infuses multiple disciplines including math, science, social studies, and English language arts. Truly, the possibilities are endless. Through the program, students and educators have the opportunity to design small-scale prototypes in order to prepare a larger build — a full-scale research vessel! There are a plethora of skills that are used by students including, but not limited to longitude and latitude, persuasive writing, text-dependent analysis and elapsed time, all while learning about Earth’s atmosphere. A space balloon is a research vessel that launches into high altitudes and carries the following technology in order to enhance the experience: SPOT GPS, GOPro Camera, Raspberry Pi or Arduino Uno. The space balloon reaches an altitude where pressure and temperature are very similar to outer-space, more specifically, the stratosphere. The Raspberry Pi or Arduino Uno are coded to measure the barometric pressure (altitude), temperature and distance. This data is collected and analyzed upon the retrieval of the vessel. In order to retrieve the space balloon, the SPOT GPS is used to track the flight and landing. Not only do the students have data to review and analyze, the GOPro camera captures amazing footage as displayed in the picture with this story. Throughout the project there learning experiences that are hands-on and innovative. The students are engaged, and the overall project provides an opportunity to not only “wow” students, but the community as well.