EHS seniors journey to the edge of space

STEM capstone students prepare to launch a weather balloon in early December

Olivia Jewell Love
olove@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 11/28/21

As they prepare to send a weather balloon to the edge of space, Evergreen High School STEM capstone seniors are working to make sure their payload boxes can withstand the descent back to the ground …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Username
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2021-2022, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

EHS seniors journey to the edge of space

STEM capstone students prepare to launch a weather balloon in early December

Posted

As they prepare to send a weather balloon to the edge of space, Evergreen High School STEM capstone seniors are working to make sure their payload boxes can withstand the descent back to the ground — by throwing them off the roof of the school.

In Stephanie Seevers’ STEM capstone class, students are learning valuable skills like coding, soldering and teamwork. The students are working on payload boxes containing Arduinos, or tiny computers, to send with the balloon that will launch Dec. 10.

An Arduino is a microcontroller on which students program code, and then the device executes that code. The microcontroller contains a micro-SD card that stores data that can be analyzed back on the ground.

Launching a weather balloon with multiple tiny computers attached is not a cheap endeavor. The EHS Educational Foundation is paying for the balloon launch, and local couple Sue and Steve Parks bought the Arduino kits for the students. 

Students will travel to Deer Trail Elementary School to launch the balloon because the school site has been authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration for such an endeavor and because winds here tend to blow from west to east, so the balloon will travel east, Seevers said.

Learning hands-on science

Senior Sarah Grube is collecting multiple data points with her payload using a barometric pressure and temperature sensor. Grube has fully immersed herself into the project, writing the SD code for the whole class.

“I didn’t really know anything about coding or soldering before,” she said. “It’s gotten me a lot more interested in computer science.”

Other members of the class also are getting into the project. One group, made up of Savanna Raley, Abby Ast, Tim McDonald and Lilla Floody, put the finishing touches on the payload box that would protect their experiments before the drop test. 

“We have four different experiments in this box,” Raley said. 

One such experiment was seeing how yeast reacts to the extremely high-altitude temperature and pressure in anticipation of baking “space bread” upon its return to the ground.

The class has known about the project since August, but Ast says the last few weeks have really been crunch time. Aside from the obvious science they are learning, McDonald says his group is experiencing life skills as well.

“Lots of teamwork,” he said, “and learning how to budget.”

Learning it’s OK to fail

The STEM capstone class started during remote learning last year, so this is the first time Seevers is teaching it in person.

Seevers hopes that, above all, this project teaches her students about being scientists. 

“In my mind, I think the best thing is for them to understand that scientists see something, try it and see if it works, fail, and then try something else.”

After their roof-drop test, many students have more work to do before the actual balloon launch on Dec. 10. One student’s video cut out, another’s controller stopped collecting data and one box completely broke open.

Seevers says this is just part of the scientific process.

“The takeaway is ... that’s how science works,” Seevers said. “You fail at it, and then you find out a different way. I think students can be really afraid of failure ... and I think we set up a lot of their school year to make them afraid of failure.”

She hopes experiments like this can teach them that failure is an important part of science and is a step in finding out what you want to know. 

Going forward, Seevers hopes the interest in her class continues. A group of freshmen came to watch the drop test, and the questions they had for one student afterward was a promising sign for the future of the STEM capstone class at EHS.

Comments

Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.