Weather & Climate- SESS #1

This image shows the weather forecast for the United States of America on Tuesday the 7th of November, 2006. It shows high and low pressure zones as well as areas that could be affected snow, rain, storms and floods.

I participated in the UMass STEM Saturday Engineering & Science Seminar this morning.  The description of this seminar was as follows:

“January 26. Air Pressure, Clouds and the Weather.  Laura Schofield, Ipswich
schools. Predict the weather by understanding air pressure and clouds.
Participants will be presented with content to strengthen their own
understandings as well as student friendly materials from the National
Weather Service and NOAA. Topics covered will include Clouds, Air Pressure
and Weather Systems. The presentation will include tutorials, hands-on
analysis of current weather data using online resources and materials that
support nonfiction reading and writing skills which address ELA Common Core

Laura Schofield did a fantastic job of explaining the materials and used time very wisely.  We started out the morning learning about the basics of air.  Upon this knowledge, we learned about air pressure and how it affects weather and climate.  The major theme of this segment of the lesson is that air is 3 dimensional, and interacts vertical as well as the horizontal way (wind) that we think about.

There was a great activity on low/high pressure areas and how it relates to the weather.  This activity has a practical application in my classroom, as I can directly tie it into the Carbon cycle.

The second segment of class, we talked about air pressure and how it relates to the creation of clouds through the water cycle.  We worked in groups of 4 and did the experiment with the 2 liter bottle, thermometer, a few drops of water, and a match.  This activity shows the conditions required for clouds to form, and again could be used in my classroom very easily.

The third lesson of class used materials from The WeatherCycler.  The WeatherCycler was great; the materials were well thought out and easy to understand.  The only part that would keep me from adopting them in my classroom would be the price.

There were other great teachers there, and it reminded me how much I miss being in a highly collaborative environment, just like the RET experience I had this past summer at BU.

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 21- Hours of Work Come Together

Today was an incredibly long day- I got to work for 7 am and started working on fixing the code that wasn’t working.  I was still having problems, but I knew that around 9 am I would be able to get some help.

I worked on doing final soldering and hot gluing of our circuits, so everything would be ready to put into the boxes as soon as I figured out the code issues.  I ended up working with David C. from the lab, and we were able to get the code working.

We had a last minute meeting to talk about everything that needed to be done during the afternoon.  We divided up jobs and went work assembling the boxes and make sure everything would hold up to the rough winds of space.

I had to run out to the hardware store and Radioshack for last minute supplies like tubing and batteries.  Everything went well, it just took a ton of time to assemble everything.  Here’s a picture of the box that contains our temperature sensors and our cameras, which are under the duct tape.


Tomorrow we need to weigh the boxes so we can find out how much lift that we need and design a counterweight before driving to Mount Greylock.