I wanted to share some thoughts on how GSBC has inspired my students in Norway by answering the following questions.
What are the main reasons you decided to participate in the GSBC?
The main reason was to discover how I could use high altitude ballooning as a tool in promoting STEM within my own school and among students. Also, if I was successful in that endeavor how I could use GSBC as a platform to promote STEM generally in Norway. The wonderful fact is that GSBC is a gift that always keeps on giving. The fact that HABing in of itself creates a high profile media rich event that attracts attention to itself is especially useful.
Our first balloon launch was in June 2011. Thanks to GSBC my efforts in promoting STEM have been a real success with dozens of print media articles published, along with numerous television interviews, several national and International Science competition awards, and the list keeps growing.
Because of these success I have been able to attract industry sponsors in other STEM areas . I now use the HoloLens in the classroom thru sponsorship directly related to the GSBC program thru Norway's leading technical society TEKNA.
What are you hoping to get out of your experience?
Wow. The main objective is the inspiration from students who are just overwhelmed that doing something like this is not only possible but affordable, reproducable, and incredibly noteworthy in promoting collaboration. As an example several years ago I attracted a 16 year old student from a local school to join THOR2- Our high altitude balloon team. This student is now 22 years old and attends one of Norway's leading Universities for technical education- NTNU in Trondheim. He adapted THOR2's latest balloon mission in a report entitled High Altitude Balloons on Mars. For his effort he won 2nd Place in the Odysseus International Science Competition. This has directly inspired other students in Norway as well as Teachers to contact me, and Discover how they too can launch high altitude Balloons.
I was just contacted this week by one of Norway's well known TV Science personalities Andreas Wahl, who is considered something like the "Bill Nye" of Norway. He has invited me to send up a balloon next October in a Conference where Norway's leading STEM educators will meet .
To say I have been inspired is not enough. The GSBC is an essential tool, it is an extraordinary platform for promoting STEM. A poor man's Space program.
What is amazing is the fact that here in my tiny town in Southern Norway, in the shadow of enormous looking snow capped Mountains, with elk chewing the cud in my backyard, I, an American, can connect With fellow STEM enthusiasts. Cultural barriers are broken, I feel connected. On my balloon team this year I have a 17 year old immigrant from war torn Syria. Just looking at his face when I show him videos of Our balloon launches is inspiration enough for me to continue this activity as long as it lasts.
Do you find the forum (community.balloonchallenge.org) useful
Yes, the forum is very useful. If I think about something I will sure to provide feedback in the forum.
Do you have any other feedback for us and how we can improve the GSBC?
I am sure I will have more feedback and as always GSBC count on out team to promote the GSBC program anytime, anywhere.
Per Olav Veraas
The picture shows several New members of Our balloon team . Coverks is a coworking Group whose members are actively involved in our new balloon mission. In the picture is Our small town Mayor wearing HoloLens, which has been sponsored in part because of our success in stimulating STEM among students here in Norway.