Just a few short generations ago the space race captured the imagination of America and the world. Space tourism is starting for the ultra rich now, but for only a couple hundred dollars, I can send a weather balloon and a digital camera to space and take pictures of it all with my students!
I teach at a middle school in the South Bronx.
It's a rough neighborhood, but the kids are great. They're a mix of African American and Hispanic students, with many recent immigrants from the Caribbean, South America, and even Africa! Earlier this year I created a project for two digital cameras as part of a project to send them up into the atmosphere and take pictures of near space. My students helped throughout the design and planning process, and on November 24th I launched and successfully retrieved the capsule! My current profile picture is the last picture our camera took before the battery died. It was a proof-of-concept test and we made some mistakes, but we want things to be even better for the next time!
In recent years, near space photography has grown more popular. As more and more people have done projects like this, the creativity of the photos and videos they're taking has increased. People have sent all sorts of things up and taken pictures: bobbleheads,toys, and chairs!
For our next launch and first HD video, we also want to take a video that's going to be fun and stand out - the foreground of our video is going to feature the DonorsChoose.org logo! All of the items requested in this project are essential to help making it happen. We'll use the cameras I got in the last project, plus the HD camera requested here. A battery extender for the video camera, memory cards, weather balloons, scales to verify weight and helium lift, latex gloves to handle the balloon, standard balloons to conduct small scale experiments, a RADAR reflector to comply with FAA rules, a tarp to use on launch day when we're setting up, a cooler to put the electronics in that will protect them from the cold, and 2 GPS devices to make sure we recover everything so we can get the videos, and use all of this expensive equipment again for launch #3! We're also going to test various batteries. The art supplies and paper mache are to decorate the launch capsule. Never done before!
Project-based learning is so engaging and exciting compared to regular textbook learning.
My kids loved preparing for the first launch and looking at the photos. Now we want to do it all over again, even better, and promote Donors Choose.org in the process! I'm hopeful that this project will be funded over the winter, and plan to do the launch in early Spring. This project covers virtually all of the costs of the project except for transportation (busing) to the launch, which my school will cover.
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