Wednesday, March 29, 2017

NearSys published in an Art/Cultural Magazine

NearSys was just published in Forum 2017, a medium for open discussion. The publisher is the Canyon County Parks, Cultural, Natural Resources office. See,

I have three near space and two astronomy pictures published in the magazine. I guess this my second arts magazine to be published in.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

UAVSonde Data for NearSys Station, 25 March 2017

UAVSonde data were collected at 9:00 AM. Here are the data.

Altitude: 2,240 feet
Temperature: 57 *F
Relative Humidity: 27%
Pressure: 937.7 mb

Altitude: 2,660 feet
Temperature: 47 *F
Relative Humidity: 41%
Pressure: 917.6 mb

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Printed Circuit Board Presentation at the Cosmos Club

A slide showing what a schematic and what the resulting printed circuit board looks like.
The Cosmos Club is a science and reason club meeting in Boise, Idaho. On the 20th, I gave a presentation about printed circuit boards, or PCBs. The presentation acquainted members in attendance with the nature, function, and design of PCBs. Did you know that PCBs is a $6 billion business?

My take home points were the following.
1. PCBs are today's technology (electrical circuits were built a lot of different ways over time.
2. PCBs are fun and easy to make using software like FreePCB (
3. PCBs are a great amateur science and engineering activity.

I believe that if we incorporate PCB design and manufacturing with microcontroller programming, schools will have a strong combined science and engineering class. A class such as this is one one way to meet the needs of a 21st century America and employment.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

UAVSonde for NearSys Station, 19 March 2017

UAVSonde data were collected at 6:00 PM. Here are the data.

Altitude: 2,270 feet
Temperature: 61 *F
Relative Humidity: no results
Pressure: 918.4 mb

Altitude: 2,542 feet
Temperature: 57 *F
Relative Humidity: no results
Pressure: 917.6 mb

Boise Code Camp

I was invited to present at Boise Code Camp 2017. My presentation was given yesterday afternoon and was on the topic of making dataloggers with PICAXE microcontrollers. I argued that combining collecting science data using student-made datalogger is something that should be occurring in all science classrooms.

The Next Generation Science Standards,, are a proposal to revamp and re-energize school science standards so can meet the needs for a 21st century America. These new standards recognize that science has progressed when the technology for doing science has changed. 

Two prime examples I can think of is the invention of the practical vacuum pump in the mid 17th century and the invention of the practical particle accelerator in the mid 20th century. 

Having students design printed circuit boards for the PICAXE microcontroller and then learning to program it to collect data opens up new science experiences for all students. 

In addition to learning to build and use dataloggers for the sake of combining science and engineering, students are learning to use a tool of industry and a future career.

As a result of developing and giving this the presentation, I will develop a short course in the topic with the goal of teaching for a community education class of summer school. 

An example of the data I shared at Boise Code Camp.

The Photometer datalogger I displayed at Boise Code Camp.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Washington Industrial Technology Education Association

Friday the 10th found me in Wenatchee, Washington speaking to teachers about using near space to teach STEM.

The main message if my presentation was that the most interesting place on Earth is accessible from anyplace in Earth.

It's always a wonderful experience to share my passion of near space with like-minded teachers.

Teachers agreed with my comment that students learn best when they encounter a discrepant event while immersed in project-based learning.

BalloonSats are a major project-based learning activity. And most students understand that mountains are colder than the land around them because of elevation. But when a BalloonSat equiped with an external temperature sensor detects that the air warms up above 50,000 feet, most students will be surprised and puzzled.

Students can be taught that the Stratosphere gets warmer due to ozone. Most will even remember that for a test. But when discover that for themselves, they'll learn it more strongly and for longer.

So let's make near space available for more students.

Easy Star Gazing for Spring

What a busy week! I gave a presentation on the March skies at the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge (see, and two presentations on the spring skies for New Knowlege Adventures Treasure Valley (see, and the Boise Library!, Hillcrest (see,!-at-hillcrest/).

Presenting the Spring Skies at the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. Now you know the names of the lunar phases. Image by Robert Allen/Pro-Image Photography ( 
Presenting the skies of spring to New Knowledge Adventures.Photography by Micki Kawasaki.

UAVSonde for NearSys Station, 12 March 2017

No UAVSonde data were collected last week, it was too windy to launch the UAV. 

UAVSonde data were collected at 4:30 PM. Here are the data.

Altitude: 2,240 feet
Temperature: 75 *F
Relative Humidity: no results
Pressure: 937.0 mb

Altitude: 2,552 feet
Temperature: 64 *F
Relative Humidity: no results
Pressure: 917.6 mb

I am in the process of rebuilding the UAVSonde weather station. Good thing, because it appears the relative humidity sensor has failed and I need to recalibrate the pressure sensor.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Weather for NearSys Station

February was a much drier month than January. Far less snow this month. Temperatures are definitely on the rise. Still very brown and barren outside.