A Personal Introduction from Team Member Alexander William Brandal and Team Thor 3
Today Tuesday, February 9, 2016, was the day that I signed in to the Global Balloon Space Challenge (GSBC) and created our new team by the name of Thor III. Over the duration of a couple of years I’ve been a contestant in different contests that are about science, but my first meeting with true science and the door that opened my interests started with our first balloon launch at my age of eleven. This created a chain of events containing four different launches for different reasons and contests.
Three launches were successful to a minimum height of 23 km in the atmosphere, with a maximum height at about 33 km in the atmosphere. All three payloads to these launches were successfully recovered.
Our last and fourth attempt was aborted on the last attempt because of difficulty procuring helium for the launch.
What started out as a simple project many years ago turned out to be a gateway to science and real fascination with everything. It grew and spiralled into a way for me and others in my group to learn much more than we would have on a regular basis.
Our first project began when our teacher found some pretty interesting videos on the internet, which in turn made us think through how we could turn this into a science project. We researched this theme and soon discovered that it would be possible to send a balloon filled with helium to the close proximity of space. Later we calculated how far it could theoretically go by including numbers such as payload weight, looking at weather patterns, learning what others have done and what kind of capsule would be needed to send everything to space. We would include a camera, and GPS device. An important consideration was the fact that the weight must all be under 1000 grams and the budget of the project had to be kept to a minimum. We were operating on a shoe string budget!
Our balloon launches are the result of many months of work inside and outside the classroom
All this happened in fifth grade, and now that I am fifteen years old I can reflect back on how meaningful it has been.
All of this spiked my interests in science and got me to the point where we are today. After our first successful launch in 2011 we decided we would advance our explorations further and wrote various science reports. In addition we invited students from other schools here in Norway to join us in the The Global Space Balloon Challenge. We also participated in various contests, including the Teddynaut challenge, the International Odysseus contest and of course Unge Forskere. (Norwegian Science Fair) Though I was not a participant in all the contests our science teacher Per Veraas shared what was discovered in the projects in the classroom and I felt involved in all of them.
For example when discussing Charles and Boyles gas laws in our science class he could use the fact that, in our Teddynaut project, we used the expansion of a small balloon at 23 kilometers in the stratosphere to mathematically determine the air pressure, based upon the fact that the volume of the balloon expanded. In other words these contests made sure that we used active learning in our classroom, and right now, as I am writing in English, even my command of the English language has improved.
The balloon project has led to other interesting projects. My goal is engaging other students to enjoying the art of true science.
Our fifth mission to near space is sheduled for some time in April, 2016. We plan on measuring atmospheric methane. In addition we plan on integrating Oculus Rift, and 360 degree immersive video .
Our latest mission motivated our team led by our science teacher to submit our balloon projects to the 2016 Ungeforskere Contest in a paper entitled "High Alitude Learning- “How five years of high altitude ballooning has led to interesting discoveries about the location of polar jet streams, the extent of snow cover in Southern Norway, evidence of super cooled water in the stratosphere, and atmospheric pressure , all on a shoe string budget!”
Thanks to the founders at GSBC for creating an incredible, innovative and profound learning experience. Aim high, for the sky!