Writing a hypothesis and designing an experiment for a high altitude balloon flight
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection
This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Aug 8, 2014
In this activity students will;
- Communicate and collaborate with experimental design team members to achieve a specific goal
- Seek advice from knowledgeable specialists as part of the information-seeking process
- Incorporate knowledge from past student HAB experience to refine ideas.
- Identify useful resources for designing an experiment.
- Apply lessons from past HAB experiments, and advice form knowledgeable physical scientists.
- Compose a working hypothesis.
- Design an experiment to test a working hypothesis.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
College-level literacy and numeracy
They will have practiced hypothesis-writing during a 2 hour lab activity.
By the beginning of this activity students will have had introductory exposure to the following concepts:
Structure of Earth's atmosphere: Temperature, Pressure, Ozone
Composition of Earth's atmosphere
Greenhouse effect and atmospheric convection
Relative humidity and cloud formation
By the beginning of this activity students also will have a basic introductory understanding of what a HAB flight is, and how they will be involved.
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
- Design an experiment to test a working hypothesis revealing an understanding of the difference between controlled versus natural experiments, and the recognition of, and need to, control variables.
Other skills goals for this activity
Presenting one's ideas orally.
Seeking information beyond looking something up on Wikipedia: consulting texts, previously written work on HAB experiments, seeking advice through talking to physics, math, and science college faculty.
Description and Teaching Materials
1) That students consult with colleagues about the flight, physical paramaters, and design. They are provided with a list of "colleagues" that they can consult with: college faculty in physics, engineering, math, and sciences.
2) That students review past reports of HAB flights. Each semester students write reports. The best of these are saved and placed in an on-line reference list (anonymously, and with permission). The students are encouraged to refer to these for ideas,and to identify pitfalls and failures so that they are not repeated.
Student handout for HAB hypothesis and design (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 23kB Aug8 14)
Teaching Notes and Tips
- Work collaboratively
- Speak with science/math/physics faculty as a way of seeking advice, ideas.
- Read science textbooks for the purpose of learning a concept and applying it somewhere else.
- Problem-solve and freely (without direction) use one's imagination.
This process ends in the building and flying of an experiment on an HAB, launched about mid-semester.