Abstract

We designed a new lab science course on stratospheric ballooning (SB), titled Exploring the Edge of Space. The course, which starts in the upcoming semester, brings together two groups of students simultaneously: Mainstream liberal arts students and students in the college’s Honors program. The Honors students meet an additional hour weekly, review scientific literature extensively, and complete a capstone project. The course design is a collaboration between the physics and earth science departments at Central Lakes College, and is drawn on the five-year experience of the authors doing SB flights, many in collaboration with the Bemidji State University SB program. Unlike the past SB flights based on a semester project within pre-existing course curricula, the SB project is the kernel of this course. Therefore it will allow students to focus on learning the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for the success of a large science-technology project while also fulfilling the outcomes to assure transferability. Those students who complete the major project activities including, but not limited to, developing experiment and revising draft reports will achieve the learning outcomes in the goal area of Natural Science of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum as well as some of the Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Curriculum recommended by the American Association of Physics Teachers. Past experience has shown that students need to spend considerable time building competency in the areas of working in teams with diverse groups, working with technology, critical thinking, complex problem solving, written communication, applying knowledge in field situations, and science literacy in both earth science concepts and research. This course will focus on developing those skills, in an entirely inquiry-based, workshop-lab environment. Students will be guided through the learning of essential concepts, and supported in doing their own research, project development, and experimental design.

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Exploring the Edge of Space: Streamlining Physics and Earth Science Collaboration in a new Community College Course

We designed a new lab science course on stratospheric ballooning (SB), titled Exploring the Edge of Space. The course, which starts in the upcoming semester, brings together two groups of students simultaneously: Mainstream liberal arts students and students in the college’s Honors program. The Honors students meet an additional hour weekly, review scientific literature extensively, and complete a capstone project. The course design is a collaboration between the physics and earth science departments at Central Lakes College, and is drawn on the five-year experience of the authors doing SB flights, many in collaboration with the Bemidji State University SB program. Unlike the past SB flights based on a semester project within pre-existing course curricula, the SB project is the kernel of this course. Therefore it will allow students to focus on learning the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for the success of a large science-technology project while also fulfilling the outcomes to assure transferability. Those students who complete the major project activities including, but not limited to, developing experiment and revising draft reports will achieve the learning outcomes in the goal area of Natural Science of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum as well as some of the Undergraduate Physics Laboratory Curriculum recommended by the American Association of Physics Teachers. Past experience has shown that students need to spend considerable time building competency in the areas of working in teams with diverse groups, working with technology, critical thinking, complex problem solving, written communication, applying knowledge in field situations, and science literacy in both earth science concepts and research. This course will focus on developing those skills, in an entirely inquiry-based, workshop-lab environment. Students will be guided through the learning of essential concepts, and supported in doing their own research, project development, and experimental design.