Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


KROEGER, Timothy J., Center for Environmental, Economic, Earth & Space Studies, Bemidji State University, 1500 Birchmont Drive NE, Bemidji, MN 56601, KOBILKA, David, Department of Geoscience, Central Lakes College, 501 W. College Dr, Brainerd, MN 56401, HIRAI, Yoshinao, Physics/Engineering Faculty, Central Lakes College, 501 W. College Dr, Brainerd, MN 56401, URBAN, Michael J., Department of Professional Education, Bemidji State University, 1500 Birchmont Dr. NE, Bemidji, MN 56601 and TRUEDSON, John, Department of Physics, Bemidji State University, 1500 Birchmont Dr. NE, Bemidji, MN 56601,

Since 2011 Bemidji State University (BSU) and Central Lakes College (CLC), located in northern and central Minnesota, have been collaborating during spring and fall semesters on high altitude balloon flights (HAB). BSU is an MS-granting university and its participating programs are Elementary Education, Secondary Science Education, Physics, and Geoscience. CLC, a neighboring, two-year college granting associate degrees, participate through its Physics, Engineering, and Geoscience programs. The active, multidisciplinary, inquiry-based nature of HAB projects provides many opportunities to engage students. Through the project they learn about Earth’s atmosphere, flight prediction, experimental design, project assembly, testing, radio telemetry, project management, teamwork, data manipulation, data analysis, and final defense of their research.

The project is mutually beneficial for both colleges. Student groups from each institution independently design and prepare experiments. Launch and recovery activities are shared as are all data collected during flights that typically reach maximum altitudes of 90,000 to 108,000 feet (27,500 to 33,000 meters). Students from both colleges work together to complete the launch, tracking, and payload recovery activities. The data sharing flows in both directions, and includes not only numerical data but also digital photography and videos of the HAB as it travels from the ground to the near-space environment. HAB projects involve learning components that are much valued at two-year colleges: collaboration, teamwork, accountability, technology, and data generation and analysis. Yet without the collaboration HAB might never have started at CLC.

This project is funded mainly through the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, which strongly encourages aerospace-related student projects and collaborations such the one described here. The funding is provided directly to Bemidji State University. While Central Lakes receives no direct funding from this source it benefits deeply from the collaboration. The purchase of ancillary materials and transportation is funded individually by each institution.