Archives for August 2012

Day 24- Pedagogy/Starting Wrap Up

Today started off great because it was the first day that I didn’t arrive at 7 am, so I was able to sleep in!.  We met in groups with teachers from our subject areas, and talked about our lesson plans.  It was great and reminded me of grad school; we used a rubric and thoroughly reviewed other’s plans.

We were asked to think about 3 questions:

How has this experience changed your perspective of research?
How has it impacted your idea of your own competence in research?
How do you envision changes in your own classroom as a result of this experience?

From my experience of research during my undergraduate days, I wasn’t a huge fan.  It seemed like research wasn’t very relevant, and that you would have to spend years doing others research before you can get to something meaningful. The Boston University Photonics RET has changed my perspective and made me feel research can be fun and you can do your own research.  I feel like I am at a level of research that I wouldn’t have achieved without completing this program.

My classroom is also a changed place because of this experience.  I envision having a classroom in which students do more individual research as opposed to already created laboratories.  I will also be using the Lesson Plans that we developed this summer to get more of a physics approach into my intro Biology class.

Otherwise, we worked on our powerpoint presentations, which we will be presenting on Wednesday morning, and our posters, which will be presented from 3-5pm on Thursday. 

Lunch was provided and we had the opportunity to talk with the REU’s; Undergraduates who were completing summer research experiences.  They were completely awesome at being able to talk about what they wish they had learned about Science in high school.  I will take back their lessons (scribbled on pages in my notebook) and apply them to my classroom.

Fjodor and I completed a rough outline of our powerpoint, with the plan to finish it up Monday.  I can’t believe I only have 5 more days left in this program!

Oh yeah…and Stephanie made this.  While I’m not a Physics teacher, everything else is accurate

Day 23- Balloon Recovery #2

I started out today early because I wanted to beat traffic into the city.  So I was into the Photonics center at BU around 7:30 am.  I happened to check out the map and see that our balloon was still transmitting it’s GPS location, so that was an awesome sign.

We had a follow up interview with Leslie Friday, and she brought with her Syndey (her last name I completely missed), who took photos of us and we talked at great lengths about the Balloon Launch.  It was nice to get to talk about the experience so quickly after it happening. We told Leslie and Syndey that we would be retrieving the Balloon during the afternoon and keep them updated.

I then set up a Dropbox Shared Folder so everyone would be able to access each other’s pictures. 

We then left for Dover, Vermont, and stopped at the Leominster Home Depot along the way.  Nate brought in his fishing pole.  We bought a snow roof rake, a saw, some really heavy duty rope, some thinner rope, and hooks. 

We went out and used my bow and arrow to try and arc over the payload line.  I made it the first shot, and we had tied the fishing line to the arrow so we had a line over that we could pull back with the heavier duty rope.  We were at this for a couple of hours, but it was too high in the tree.

We ended up having to cut down the tree.  I felt a little guilty, but it would provide opportunities for other types of plants to grow in the space that now allowed the sun to hit the forest floor. 

The payload was stuck still in another tree, but we were able to use the roof rake to scoop it down.


We went out for dinner and drinks to celebrate, and looked at the pictures.  Amazing.  I’m excited to sort through these.  Here’s the preview:


Day 22- Balloon Launch & Recovery Attempt

Today we launched our 1200 gram balloon from Mt. Greylock State Reservation in Lanesborough, MA.  We launched right near the visitors center, in a big field.

We started the day by loading everything into my car, while the other cars took the passengers.  Here’s a picture to show you how crowded it was.


It took us about 3 hours to convoy out there, and I insisted that we stop for coffee because many of us were running on very little sleep.  We arrived at the launch site around 11:30 am, and started the process of assembling everything.

Nate started filling the balloon while Fjodor and I worked on assembling the payload packages.  I turned on the cameras and started the script (which takes pictures every 5 seconds automatically) and the Arduino to start logging temperatures.

Fjodor worked on testing our communication systems via, and everything worked out.  We assembled everything and launched around 1:25 pm.  Jean started the cutoff mechanism right around 1:10, so 3:17 would be the time where the mechanism starts cutting through the rope and releasing it from the balloon.

Here’s a video of the actual launch!

Balloon Launch 8/1 BUSAT


We were using our smartphones and Nate’s callsign to track where the balloon was in real time by using  It worked out great, and we received signal that it reached 95,000 feet and landed in Dover, Vermont.

 2012-08-05 01.15.16 pm

We ended up tracking it into the woods, and found the Balloon, but it was in a tree.  We didn’t have a way of getting it down, so we had to leave it there and regroup.  It ended up being right off of VAST trails in Vermont, which are public land, and it was high up in a tree that we weren’t worried about something happening to the balloon.


On the ride home, we formulated a plan using a bow and arrow attached to fishing line.  If we shot that over, we could tie rope to where the arrow was, and pull a heavier duty string over the tree to pull it down.  We stopped in Gardner, MA, where I grew up, and picked up my bow and arrow, with the though of going back out tomorrow to retrieve our payloads.