Two New Updates on the “High Hopes Project”

I got to spend some time today at Cottonwood Elementary School. Students and teachers there are tackling a few of our engineering challenges. I took some photos and wrote a post about the bio-engineering inquiry they are performing over at the High Hopes Project Blog. It’s called “Decomposing Third Graders” or “I saw Third Graders Decomposing At A School Today” – check it out.

Also we shared a post about how just one of the collaborative aspects of this model STEM learning project works – it’s titled: “Just One Collaborative Aspect Of The High Hopes Project” – check it out as well!

Learning is messy!!

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Elementary School Receives Their “High Hopes” Challenges

Check out the new post over at the “High Hopes Project” blog to get an update on the engineering and other tasks our elementary school received today.

Learning is messy!

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Learning Arduinos to Use Arduinos

Just posted about the work going on with the middle school students that are designing the “High Hopes” release mechanism, a  solar panel monitoring system and possibly other systems that will utilize Arduinos. But first they have to learn how … and they’re learning to utilize them with model rockets first! Go check it out. Great messy learning!

Learning is messy!

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The “High Hopes Project” Explained

This is cross posted at the “High Hopes Project” blog
Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake from about 29,000 meters (95,000 feet)

The “High Hopes Project” is designed to be a model global STEM learning project. But what is it really and how does it work? Who is involved? How can my students and I be involved?

Last year we dropped GoPro cameras 45 feet deep in Lake Tahoe and pulled them up to almost 30,500 meters (100,000 feet) attached to a high altitude weather balloon to investigate how that would work. No students were involved in that trial.

Well that has changed. We (see below) are planning launches from several Reno and Fernley, Nevada, area schools this spring. Tentative dates are the last week in April, and from crystal clear Lake Tahoe in June. These launches will include payloads designed by local students. At least 2 of the payloads will carry the “High Hopes” of the world to near space and release them. Teachers and their students (that’s you!) can participate by writing and submitting your “High Hopes via a Google Spreadsheet or via Twitter.

We are collecting “High Hopes” for your school, community and the world, from students and others around the globe – we’ve already received hundreds from local students, but also students from as far away as Norway and France.

Here are more specifics about the project including ways for you or anyone to join in:

Sparks High School students are designing and building a water pressure gauge to track water pressure from 45 meters (150 feet) deep in Lake Tahoe to the surface. An air pressure gauge will monitor air pressure to 30,500 meters (100,000 feet) or higher. Students from around the world will be invited to research to determine what will happen to the water and air pressure during flight, and we will share the data we bring back so they can assess their understanding.

Sparks High Students are also challenged to engineer a way to reel in the 45 meters (150 feet) of line with the cameras and water pressure gauge up to the bottom payload. Leaving the cameras dangling far below could cause instability during the flight, so this is an important engineering problem to solve. The students also designed the actual payloads to carry the “High Hopes” of the world up to 30,500 meters (100,000 feet), and then release the tiny strips of paper they will be printed on to spread in the atmosphere – Now they’ve turned those payloads over to Sparks Middle School students to install the release mechanism they are designing.

Sparks Middle School students will be learning about writing computer code and designing a system utilizing Ardunio micro-computers.  They will conduct low altitude tests using model rocketry to determine an effective way of accurately measuring altitude using the Arduino system and then use the knowledge gained from these tests to design a system to release the high hopes of the world at at least two different altitudes as the balloon is in flight.

Students at Cottonwood Elementary in Fernley (a K-4 school) are designing special high hopes to glide or helicopter to the ground – these high hopes will be launched at a lower altitude, around 6100 meters (20,000 feet) so the atmosphere is thick enough for them to take flight. They will also perform experiments utilizing bio-engineering to find a substance to treat the paper with so it decomposes as fast as possible once the “Hopes” hit the ground. The elementary students will utilize their new blogging skills and other means to encourage everyone to submit their “High Hopes.”

One payload will include colorful party balloons inflated to different sizes. We challenge students everywhere to research to determine what will happen to them as they rise through atmospheric layers to 30,500 meters (100,000 feet). Onboard cameras will record what occurs and we will share the photos/video obtained so students globally can see what transpired. In addition, we will monitor temperature and other data during the flights and share that data as well.

The High Hopes Project is planned as a model global STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) project so teachers, students and the community are better educated in the powerful learning a quality integrated STEM approach provides. There will be creative writing ideas, math and more offered along the way. These lesson ideas and challenges will be linked on our project Wiki page. Check back often to see new information and challenges.

You Can Participate too! Teachers and students (really anyone!) can participate by: 1) Brainstorming, writing and submitting their “High Hopes” for their school, community and the world. 2) Participating in the science, engineering and math challenges we offer. 3) Follow our progress via the various social networks we are utilizing to inform and include the world (see links below).

There are other aspects of this project that are developing and we will share later as well.

Additionally, we have partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Departments. They are experts in launching high altitude balloons, but are also encouraging undergraduate and graduate level engineering students to work with and mentor students at Sparks High School, Sparks Middle School and Cottonwood Elementary School.

This is a collaborative project between Nevada’s Northwest Regional Professional Development Program, the 21st Century Division of WCSD, the Lyon County School District, the Washoe County School District, the University of Nevada, Reno,   and students from around the world.

Here are links to our online resources – this is how we are modelling the “T” part of STEM – these links will also provide you much more specific information about the project:

Our blog: http://highhopesproject.edublogs.org

Our Web Site: http://highhopesproject.net

Our Twitter page: https://twitter.com

Our Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/127331960@N04/sets/

Our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM6JGyKhW2OXYiY9gh3J-Lg/videos

Learning is messy!!!

Posted in Change, Cooperative Learning, Digital Video, Education, Inclusion, Literacy, Making Connections With Blogging, Messy Learning, Project Based, STEM, Student Access, Teacher Access, Technology, Twitter, Web 2.0, Wikis | 2 Comments

Balloon Inquiry: What Will Happen And Why?

This was originally posted at the High Hopes Project web site.

Note the 4 party balloons that all started out the same size before they were inflated, on their way to 30,500 meters (100,000 feet ) from a balloon flight last year. On our upcoming flight we will inflate 4 of the same size balloons – the first balloon will be inflated to about 1/4 of its capacity (like the yellow balloon in the photo), the second balloon to about 1/2 of its capacity (see the green balloon above), the third to about 3/4 its capacity (Note the orange balloon), and the fourth balloon will be inflated close to full (Note the red balloon above). What will happen to them during the flight? What are the characteristics of the atmosphere that may effect them and what, if any, will that effect be? Explain your conclusion.

When we launch the “High Hopes” high altitude weather balloon we will include this experiment. We will have a camera recording what happens to the balloons and share those images with you after the flight in late April or early May 2015. So do your research about our atmosphere, discuss with your collaborators, do some heavy thinking, then write what you think will happen. You could even leave your written thoughts here as a comment if you’d like.

Learning is messy!

 

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Now You Can Submit High Hopes For The World With Twitter!

NOTE: This post was originally posted on the High Hopes Project Blog:

When we launch our balloons to 100,000 feet (30,000+ meters) this spring, the world’s high hopes will go with them. Now we’ve made it even easier to submit a “High Hope” using Twitter. Just “Tweet” your “High Hope” for the world, include the hashtag #hhpstem – and we’ll get it and include it in a payload that will take it to near space and then release it to spread around the world. So your “High Hope” will really go high!

We suggest however that having your students write their “High Hopes” for their school, community and the world might need more than 140 characters so then, as we shared in our last post:

“When we first designed the “High Hopes Project” years ago, we went about making sure it stressed not just the powerful content writing experiences about the science and engineering, but the creative writing we knew it would motivate students to engage in. We’ll share more of those along the way, but having students brainstorm, discuss, and share what their “high hopes” are for their school, community and the world turned out to be gold. Most students (maybe adults too) just don’t think about what can and could be.

Originally we had our students write those three “hopes” … school, community … world. We posted general steps, but we have no strict rules about how you submit your “Hopes.” They can be just be one “hope” per student … a “class” hope that the class develops … it is up to you. “Hopes” could also be written as a poem or short story. Once done, you submit them here.”

Either way is fine, you decide. But you just might want to send your own “High Hope” to us quickly through Twitter … and now you can! Remember the hashtag #HHPSTEM  – you can even send more than one!

Learning is messy!

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Making and Taking Flight

When experienced using a truly integrated approach, STEM learning is, I believe, the most powerful language arts program there is. The reason so many still struggle with STEM is that they approach it as an “add-on” … something else they have to make time for instead of embracing it as a culture. Yes, it takes time to cultivate that culture where students have learned to work together to solve problems and make things. It also means changing how you run your classroom and you have to give up, at least some of the time, the siloing of subjects and your daily schedule.

Unfortunately, demonstrating and providing experiences for teachers that include even a smattering of the possibilities during a 75 – 90 minute presentation is quite possibly impossible. But we keep trying to do so because we keep being asked to. My boss wants me to set up some 16 hour classes next school year (I’m already overbooked for this year) that will provide more time to experience what that is like from the student point-of-view, so that is definitely on my radar for next year.

Yesterday we were asked again to do our best to make that connection between ELA and STEM at the local Reading Conference for teachers. Here is how we went about it:

We believe it is key to have teachers learn their ABC’s. Not as in the alphabet, but as in Activity Before Content. So we began with an activity. The science reading our students (actually the teachers in our session) would take on was about flight and specifically dealt with lift, drag, thrust and gravity. We did not front load the vocabulary as is common practice, instead we used the activity to give them schema.

We passed out a balsa wood prop plane to each group of 3 to 4 teachers and instructed them to put them together. We gave no other instructions.

We noted that every group actually read, discussed and followed the directions on the package! :)

Once finished, teachers were asked to discuss and write about the construction experience, then what ways their plane could be “adjusted” to achieve the longest flight possible. We had them share a few of their answers but made no comments on whether their ideas would truly make a difference. Then we found an empty hallway for the 50+ participants to fly the 18 planes we had passed out. We also gave them a 10 meter measuring tape and had then bring the science notebooks we had them make along, but again, did not tell them what to do with them if anything.

The groups staked out spots to fly and we observed intently.

Most groups decided to throw their planes after winding the propeller rubber band what seemed to be the “right number” of spins. One group launched their plane from the ground because they felt that throwing it wasn’t consistent and could skew the data they were collecting. Then we started to see groups were counting the number of turns of the propeller so that their data would be “more comparable.” Next some were making tweaks to the wing position and so on to achieve a straighter flight and more. So they were discovering things about flight and how their planes functioned through experience, NOT because we took class time to lecture and demonstrate the “right” way.

It was a 75 minute presentation, so that was all the time we had for flying. We returned to class and had them journal about their experience for 3 minutes or so and then did a quick debrief. During our discussion it was noted that these planes are not a perfect way to do inquiry science/engineering because there is no way to control all the variables. Even if you wind the propeller the same number of turns each time the way the rubber band winds up is different and could effect the flight. releasing the plane if you give it a toss is problematic because you can’t be sure you gave it the exact same toss and released it at the exact same angle. When it lands (usually crashes) the wings and tail get moved … did you put them back exactly where they were the last time? Launching from the ground is easier to control overall, but did you let go of the propeller and the plane at the same time and way each time …. and more … you get the idea. So this is a great and motivating way to teach the steps of doing inquiry, but just realize the data produced is slightly unreliable at best.

Note that if you did this activity in your classroom, what we did during the presentation would be how you would introduce the activity. You are just letting students have time to become familiar with how these things work. Next you would get into why this isn’t a perfect inquiry piece but ask them for ways to control the variables as best as possible so we can learn how to get the longest, straightest (or whatever you and they decide to learn about – maybe all of these and more). Perhaps you would agree to launch from the ground behind a line. Do you measure to where the plane ended up, or mark where it first hit the ground? All these decisions lead students to understand how inquiry is done … let them figure it out as much as possible with you playing the role of “reluctant guide” – only helping with advice or opinions when you judge you just have to to move things along. HAVE students take photos, video clips, take notes … even though they will balk at that to keep making flight after flight …. solid science and engineering require descriptive note taking and data collection.

 

Next we handed out some leveled science readers that had the same article about flight, with the same illustrations and charts, just written at different reading levels. Teachers were then instructed to read the article closest to their grade level (K-1, 2-3, 4-6, 6-9 or so) and take notes on the connections between their activity and what they learned from the reading. When they shared out teachers mentioned how the vocabulary was more interesting and meaningful to learn about because they had experienced them during the activity ( lift, drag, thrust and gravity). In addition because the article was about a flight around the world in a propeller powered plane they understood more of the issues the main character had experienced … and they were just more motivated to read it period because they had assembled and flown their own plane.


We quickly made the point that what they had just experienced in 40 minutes would easily be 1 to 2 weeks in the classroom with all the flights, data collection, journaling, creative writing possibilities, analyzing the data in math, re-enginnering to achieve longer or straighter or finding out what the “best” number of turns to put on the rubber band is and on and on. Imagine connecting with another class anywhere in the world doing the same inquiry and sharing data and discussing results and stories of the good, bad and ugly of what happened during all the flights. How could you bring art in? History? Guest speakers?

We next shared some of the connections to the Next generation Science Standards and shared some other resources and our time was up.

Learning is messy!!

 

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The “High Hopes” Are Coming In From Around The World – Share Yours!

Re-posted from the High Hopes Project blog.

Steve Spangler of Steve Spangler Science Tweeted out that he shared a “High Hope” – what about you!

One aspect of the “High Hopes Project” is to demonstrate that when done well, STEM is as powerful a language arts and math learning strategy as any – maybe the best. In addition it not only includes, but relies on the arts and other parts of the curriculum that have been narrowed out recently to convey what has been learned.

We will be collecting and sharing data during the flights (probably 3 to 5 flights total) on temperature, air pressure and water pressure from deep in Lake Tahoe for example. But it is up to you, well mainly your students to do the research about the atmosphere and other science and engineering problems we will explore and predict what will happen. We will share the data we will collect so you and your students can analyze it and come to conclusions about what happened and if your predictions were correct and/or why they weren’t. That’s a powerful piece … even if their predictions prove inaccurate, the learning will still come in figuring out why. So we won’t share what we think will happen, we’ll just explain all the ways we’ll collect data (some in very engaging ways) and the specific data – it’s up to you as the guide and your students as the inquirers to figure out what should and did happen.

Adam Savage from the “Mythbusters” Re-Tweeted” about submitting your “High Hopes” too:

When we first designed the “High Hopes Project” years ago, we went about making sure it stressed not just the powerful content writing experiences about the science and engineering, but the creative writing we knew it would motivate students to engage in. We’ll share more of those along the way, but having students brainstorm, discuss, and share what their “high hopes” for their school, community and the world are turned out to be gold. Most students (maybe adults too) just don’t think about what can and could be.

Originally we had out students write those three “hopes” … school, community … world. We posted general steps. But we have no strict rules about how you submit your “Hopes.” They can be just be one “hope” per student … a “class” hope that the class develops … it is up to you. “Hopes” could also be written as a poem or short story. Once done you submit them here.

Below find some example “High Hopes” that have been submitted already from around the globe. You’ll see different kinds and approaches. Remember that we will print them out on special paper that will decompose quickly … then we will release them from 100,000 feet (33,000 meters) or higher where they will spread around and settle back to the Earth and then become part of the Earth again. Here are some examples:

______

1. I hope that I will continue getting good grades.
2. I hope that there will be no more racism.
3. I hope that war and terror will stop.

______

I want to be a author when I grow up. My biggest dream is to be like J.K. Rowling, and write books like the Harry Potter books.

______

I hope that one day my Mom realizes how much my sisters and I care for, and appreciate her.

______

My high hope for this school year is to not be afraid to work with decimals and fractions. Another of my high hopes is to not be afraid to be myself. Also my hope is to throw more strikes whenever I am pitching softball. In conclusion, I want to appreciate life each day.

______

My “High Hope” is for our friend NAME WITHHELD to recover from brain damage and regain the ability to have a normal life.

______

I hope to go visit my Mom in prison. I haven’t seen her in 3 years.

______

My High Hope is to get Destiny on Xbox 360 and to get a 20 Microsoft points gift card.

______

For bullying to STOP! We need to see a day when kids can wake up in the morning and not be scared to go to school. Where kids can BE THEMSELVES without being judged. That is my High Hope.

______

My High Hope is to keep studying astronomy, and become a NASA engineer, to help my family during hard times.

______

Some of these are from as far away as Norway and Canada. In the past we have received them from many countries. The age of students is from 2nd grade through high school. Hope these examples help you get a feel for how “High Hopes” can look. But remember, no hard and fast rules.

Send yours soon!

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Next Design Challenges For Students

Originally posted at the High Hopes Project Blog

Lots has happened since we last checked in with students at Sparks High School that are designing and engineering several of the payloads we will send up to 100,000 feet (33,000 meters). The students finished one design for releasing the world’s High Hopes. The plan is to solicit the world’s “Hopes” – (you can add your students’  “Hopes” here) print them out on small strips of paper that will biodegrade rapidly, release them at 100,000 feet or higher and then have them spread out over the world and become one with the Earth. The challenge is to make that happen under the severe conditions the payload will experience.

Above is the simple, lightweight design that includes a framework inside to mount a camera that will record the release of the “High Hopes,” as well as a latch to hold it closed. Next we will turn the payload over to Sparks Middle School students to design a way to open the payload at just the right time. The high school students are also working on a second release payload that will release some of the “Hopes” at a lower altitude – local elementary students are designing some of the “Hopes” so they will glide or helicopter down … but that has to happen at a different altitude for reasons we will leave to you and your students to figure out. :)

Next we shared the other engineering design problems the high school students will take on. One of our launches will be from Lake Tahoe. We were working out how to do that last year when we had this failure and this success, Now we plan to drop cameras over 100 feet deep in the lake and part of that camera package will include a water pressure gauge the students have to design and build (they will also need to become familiar with Noble Gas Law). One of the cameras will track the gauge to record the water pressure from it’s deepest point to the surface of the lake. An air pressure gauge will also be deployed on the payloads above the surface. We will share the data from those and other readings … your students can inquire to figure out what will happen to those readings during the flight as well as temperature and other readings.

In addition, they have to reel the 100+ feet (33+ meters) of line the cameras and gauge are attached to back up to the other payloads so they aren’t dangling, possibly causing instability. So after they break the surface of the lake, those need to be retracted.

As a model STEM project, one of our goals is to set up collaborations not only between students at various schools, but also between students and engineers. The Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science departments at the University of Nevada, Reno, are experts in high altitude ballooning, and they have agreed to mentor our student participants. So on this visit we brought along Sierra Adibi,  a junior in the mechanical engineering department. Her minor is in unmanned autonomous systems … so we felt she just might be a good fit. :)

Above: Sierra answered their questions and gave them some background and ideas on how they might utilize the Noble Gas Law in their water pressure gauge design. She also noted materials they were utilizing and asked questions about what they needed to consider for the conditions their designs have to deal with. Such a great opportunity to have students connect with people really working in the field … to see what others are doing. We’re planning to have Sierra come back to talk to the students more about the note-taking and writing pieces required for this kind of work. Their teacher, Mr.Walsh mentioned that students were struggling somewhat with those skills and Sierra offered to return soon with examples.

Finally we also gave them a problem to start on we will share at a later date. However it does tie-in nicely with the paper airplane design project Mr. Walsh already has planned in the coming month. Needless to say, by the end of the discussion it was hard to tell who was more excited, the students or us! With all the challenges the high school students are given, they are turning over some of the design and building over to the middle school and elementary students as needed. The whole world can join in by learning about the characteristics of our atmosphere and water, drawing informed conclusions and then using the data and media we will share after our launches to see if their conclusions were correct.  We’ll share more about how anyone can be part of this project in future posts.

What are your “High Hopes!?”

Next we meet with the middle school and elementary students to inform them of their challenges.

Learning is messy!

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Next Design Challenges for Students in Our High Hopes Project

I’ll probably repost this here in full later, but we just posted an update over on our High Hopes Project blog. Exciting stuff going on, read about it here: Next Design Challenges For Students.

 

 

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