The Bemidji State University high altitude ballooning program has involved middle or elementary school students with high altitude flights since spring of 2013. A total of about 110 students from the Bemidji Middle School (BMS) and 20 elementary students from the Schoolcraft Learning Community (SLC) have participated in four flights over four years. Student projects were designed to help illustrate authentic science investigation and meet parts of the Minnesota State K-12 Science Standards. One author made five visits to work with SLC students, introducing them to science and engineering fundamentals and payload/experiment construction. Elementary students participated in the launch activity but not the recovery. Two other authors coordinated activities with the BMS through one pre-launch visit—middle school faculty supervised the design and construction of the payloads. An example project involved sending up three types of beans for a controlled experiment. The students visited the BSU laboratory for final payload construction and review of launch protocols. The students participated and assisted in the launch and recovery activities The post-activity feedback from students suggests: additional participation opportunities in HAB be made available including more involvement with BSU faculty, increasing direct student participation in the launch/recovery, and continuing the current program. Feedback from teachers suggests: modeling the launch activity in the classroom is beneficial, transportation funding is a critical issue, students were excited and engaged, multiple state learning standards were met, and middle school students’ introduction to STEM activities at a university may potentially encourage them to pursue a STEM degree.
How to Cite:
Urban, M. J., Kroeger, T., Studer, M. & Truedson, J., (2017) “Elementary and middle school student participation in high altitude ballooning: Teacher-student perspectives”, Academic High Altitude Conference 2016(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/ahac.5567