To date, I have found several articles on near space and BalloonSats in an educational setting. Some describe how a near space program was set up, how one is operated, and some of the experiments college level students are performing. However, I have found no dissertations or studies showing the effect of a BalloonSat project on student interests in science. My plan is to address this issue.
My research plan involves creating a BalloonSat challenge similar to the successful FIRST robotics challenge. Student teams will have a limited time to design, construct, and test a BalloonSat design. There is no actual competition between teams; however, students will need to send their BalloonSat back to me before their deadline. I will launch the BalloonSats for all the teams and expect them to reach 90,000 feet. After recovery, the BalloonSats will be returned to their respective schools so that each team can download and analyze the data. Students will have two weeks to process their data and post the results in a web-based report.
Student interest in science will be measured twice, once before the project begins and then one last time after the reports are completed. I also plan to select a convenience sample of students to interview. The results of the surveys, the team reports, and interviews will be the data of my study.
I have designed the BalloonSat kit and selected the science interest inventory. Over the next couple of weeks, I discuss my plans in greater detail and continue asking for volunteers. In the hopes that I can get more classrooms to volunteer, the BalloonSat kits will be free and will the flight. After the study is complete, classrooms will be allowed to keep their BalloonSat. As long as they can find a balloon group, it can be reprogrammed and launched again and again.
Please consider being a part of this study. As I said earlier, no study like this has been done in the past.