Outreach Launch

Call for Participants: Near-Space Balloon Launch for Middle School and High School Teachers

The UCSD near-space balloon team is excited to provide high school outreach balloon launches! If you received a postcard from us, then you've found the right page. Please read below for more information, including contact information. Thank you!

Who: The University of California San Diego’s near-space balloon team is being sponsored by NASA’s California Space Grant Consortium to reach out to the teachers of San Diego middle and high school  students. We encourage the teachers of students who may not be likely to consider science and engineering for their futures to apply. (If you received  a postcard from us, then you've found the right page!)

What: Teachers are invited to work to create a small experimental payload to be placed on a high-altitude weather balloon and carried into near space (approximately 85000 feet). UCSD will aid in the design of the experiment, and some costs related to payload construction will be reimbursed (amount will be discussed at first seminar). Teachers will be introduced to the basics of high-altitude ballooning, and be invited to attend the launch and supervise their experiment. The teachers can use the experience to enrich their science curriculum and inspire students to pursue STEM fields for their futures.

When: The launch dates are TBD, and this is a recurring activity. Exact dates will be coordinated with teachers to best fit all participants' schedules. Typically, launch attendees drive to the launch site for an early morning launch, and return to San Diego by 5:30 PM.

Several seminars would be held with the teachers prior to the launch, to discuss high-altitude ballooning and the associated experimental payloads. These seminars will be held at UCSD, and dates will be selected once we know what days work best for everybody.

Where: The launch location is in the desert east of San Diego, in the vicinity of Plaster City. Exact launch location is dependent on wind conditions, and cannot be declared until the morning of the launch. After the balloon has landed, recovery will require a chase team to drive to the landing zone and recover the payload experiments. Teachers would be required to drive to the launch location, but not necessarily to participate in recovery. Participants must bring sun protection and their own lunches.

Cost: These launches are completely free! There is no cost for teachers to apply or participate. In addition, some funds will be provided to buy additional payload experiment equipment. We understand that teachers often have limited funding to pursue their own STEM activities, so we are happy to use our balloon launch equipment to help teachers experience the excitement and potential of near-space ballooning.

Criteria to attend: Due to payload space and weight constraints onboard the balloon, participation must be limited for each launch. The selected teachers must meet the following criteria:

1)      Teach science courses to middle school through high school junior students.

2)      Must be able to attend the launch and drive to the launch site (carpooling is encouraged).

3)    Be enthusiastic about science, and eager to communicate their experiences to inspire their students to consider higher education in science and engineering.

Please note that even if we do not have space for everyone to participate this summer, we plan on doing more of these launches and will be glad to keep your contact information for future launches.

Sign me up!: If you are interested in participating in a launch at some point, please send an email to UCSDnearspaceballoonteam@gmail.com and include your name, school name, and contact information. Please briefly describe why you would like to participate, and how you think you could use this experience to enrich your curriculum. We will add your name to our email list, and contact all selected teachers to coordinate convenient launch dates. There is no commitment to attend any launches if you send us an email, so please contact us if you think you may be interested!

For more information about near-space ballooning, please feel free to explore our website for pictures and data from previous launches, payload ideas, and frequently asked questions. Thank you!