Monday, July 6, 2015

Guest Blog Post - Classroom Laboratory at the Edge of Space: Introducing the Mini-Cube Program

Gregory N. Cecil
“In November of 2013, Grace Lutheran Middle School Science students, under the instruction of Mr. Cecil, embarked on the longest and most complicated endeavor ever done in their short academic careers, called, “Mini-Cube.” The Mini-Cube Project was completed in May of 2014.

The students at Grace Lutheran worked to design, build, and package 16 experiments to be sent to an altitude of 100,000 feet or 20 miles, more commonly known as “the edge of space” by high altitude balloon.” – Opening statement to parents at the opening of the cubes by the students.

Sending experiments to the “edge of space” may seem to be an expensive feat capable only by NASA, but many students as young as age 11 (6th grade) have been designing multiple experiments and sending them up for several years now for less than $350.00 per flight using JP Aerospace’s Mini-Cube Program. The book, Classroom Laboratory at the Edge of Space, was written by former space shuttle worker and science teacher Gregory Cecil to show step by step how this “informal” STEM Project Based Learning Activity can be carried out by most secondary and homeschools in an affordable manner and within the traditional school year based on the “lessons learned” by this author and his students. This activity will result in a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to conduct real science in their own space program at the “edge of space.”

“A Mini-Cube is a 5 cubic centimeter plastic cube that can be modified in any manner by a team or group of teams to accommodate their experiment(s) and is flown to an altitude of 100,000 feet or 20 miles by high altitude balloon to the “edge of space” by JP Aerospace. The cube can hold 4 or more trays or racks of experiments and the total weight cannot exceed 240 grams.” (Cecil, M.A.S., 2015)

This book was written for secondary public and private school STEM instructors, home schooling, and undergraduate STEM courses of study explaining how to set up their own student focused “space program” utilizing the Mini-Cube Program. With this STEM Project Based Learning Activity, students can have the unique, affordable, and challenging opportunity to send experiments via high altitude balloon to an altitude of 100,000 feet (20 miles or 32 km), commonly known as the “edge of space.”

Utilizing the scientific method, team work, research, and communicating in writing the results and applications for peer review, students will participate in the full cycle of an actual experiment from the original question to the published results and conduct true science at the edge of space.

“Classroom Laboratory at the Edge of Space: Introducing the Mini-Cube Program” can be found on Amazon Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Classroom-Laboratory-Edge-Space-Introducing-ebook/dp/B00XTPLBKQ/ref=pd_ybh_1. A print version is also available, go to https://www.createspace.com/5508539.

Please note that this author does not work for nor receives any compensation from JP Aerospace.

###
Gregory N. Cecil, M.A.S.
K-12 Outreach and Social Media Coordinator-SpaceTEC
SpaceTEC Nationally Certified Aerospace Technician
Adjunct Instructor Aerospace Technology Program-Eastern Florida State College
CEO-AeroSTEM Consulting, LLC
Author: Classroom Laboratory at the Edge of Space: Introducing the Mini-Cube Program

Gregory N. Cecil, M.A.S. is the only Florida State Certified Educator and Nationally Certified Aerospace Technician in the nation. Currently, Greg provides Aerospace STEM consulting for schools and companies, conducts workshops for STEM teachers, and gives presentations on subjects related to STEM and Human Spaceflight.