High Altitude Research Project (HARP)

Science Heads is now accepting applications for student experiments to fly aboard our next high altitude balloon (HAB). Teachers from intermediate and high schools in Southern California are invited to have their students participate in this exciting program. Interested parents are invited to share this information with their child’s educator.

To register send an email to richard@scienceheads.org.

HARP Session Dates:

Session # Status Register By Planned Launch Date *
         1  Tentative Oct 15, 2021 November 13, 2021
         2  Tentative March 18, 2022 April 23, 2022

* Dependent on weather, FAA clearance, and other factors.

To register send an email to richard@scienceheads.org.

Program History and Description

Science Heads started the HAB/STEM program in 2018 to offer 7th – 12th grade students an opportunity to participate in real-world like scientific research. Under the guidance of their teachers and Science Heads volunteers – students propose and build experiments of their own design. Working as a class, individuals, or in teams students first submit a written proposal describing their experiment. Proposals are then evaluated by a committee of local scientists and engineers. If selected, the students then build their experiments and watch them launched in the payload of a High Altitude Balloon (HAB).

Science Heads’ HAB’s often reach an altitude of over 100,000 feet where the atmospheric conditions are similar to that on the surface of Mars. The payloads then return to Earth by parachute and are retrieved by Science Heads. The data collected by the experiments are provided to the students for analysis and reporting. This unique program offers a real-world like experience in which students can apply scientific methodology, critical thinking, and writing skills.

This year, to better support educators during the pandemic, the program has been re-designed to support remote participation. Additionally, Science Heads has partnered with the NOAA and NWS to give on-line presentations and answer student’s questions about weather, climate, and other related topics.

See pictures and videos from the Feb 20th, 2021 (HAB6) launch and recovery.

Three Participation Tracks

Teachers may register their students to participate in one or more of the three participation tracks:

  • Original Experiment Submission – students working as a class, as individuals or in teams may propose, build, and execute experiments of their own design. Experiments must meet the criteria and parameters detailed in the HAB/STEM Experiment Proposal Submission Guidelines document.
  • Participation in Science Heads run experiments – Science Heads has pre-designed experiments for students participation. Students remotely participate in the planning and design meetings, attend subject matter expert presentations, execute the experiment post recovery of the payload, and then analyze the data and report the results
    • Pre-designed experiments:
      • Martian seed experiment (download protocol below)
      • Measuring and identifying physical forces during flight experiment
  • Participation in Pre-Launch and Post Launch Operations – Students can remotely participate in the HAB launch planning meetings, attend subject matter expert presentations, and write reports. These meetings include presentations given by subject matter experts from the National Weather Service (NWS) and NOAA.

Martial Seed Experiment

This hands-on experiment demonstrates the difference between dependent and independent variables, applicability of control groups, the importance of rigorous data capture and data analysis.

Physical Forces Experiment

Students will learn how to use professional data analysis and visualization tools as they chart the G-forces experienced by the high altitude balloon during flight.

Video 1 (description of components used)

Video 2 (AdaFruit Feather Wing mounting and initialization)

Video 3 (Gyro and accelerometer initial tests)

Video 4 (Testing real time clock, SD card, and motion sensors)

Project Based Learning Components

Students participating in the ’20/21 HAB / STEM program will :

  • Learn about weather and climate patterns from subject matter experts.
  • Engage in real-world problem solving.
  • Demonstrate their gained knowledge by submitting a report, poster or giving a presentation to their class or educator.
  • Develop deep content knowledge.
  • Develop critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills.

To register send an email to richard@scienceheads.org.RP