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Our Wisconsin charter school uses scientific research and project-based learning as the focus of our curriculum. Project learning is based on a constructivist model of learning that engages you in real-world scholarly activity because you get to chose topics that interest you.
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Gone with the Wind

Posted on January 9, 2015 by -Ethan R. 9th grade

Wildlands is a place for students to push the boundaries of what is possible in our learning environment, and make the student's dreams become a reality. Our team of six students came up with the idea to send a weather balloon with an atmospheric probe into low orbit. The goal was to gather data and photos from the edges of our atmosphere. In order to make this possible, we had to employ an incredibly small and inexpensive computer called the Raspberry Pi, along with a few sensors controlled by this device. The sensors would allow us to not only capture stunning photos but also gather information such as barometric pressure, temperature, and altitude. We started collecting some background information, including watching multiple videos that demonstrated what was essential for this project to be successful.

In order to purchase the supplies we needed we raised five hundred dollars with a free fundraising site called youcaring.com, and combining that with the support of relatives, we purchased the Raspberry Pi,  parachute, weather balloon, and the sensors. We also negotiated sponsorship with Airgas, for a free helium tank. This sponsorship helped enormously with the cost of the project.

After we purchased the Pi and sensors, we spent many hours programming them to collect the data we needed to complete the project. This was the longest stage of project and definitely the most frustrating. While waiting for the helium to arrive, we made a box to put the Pi and sensors in, and listed all of our contact information on the side of the box. We had to be careful when positioning the Pi and sensors so that everything would fit inside. On Wednesday December 3rd, after months of demanding work, we finally launched the balloon and it was soon out of sight. The balloon traveled over two hundred miles southeast to Fond Du Lac. It was found by a pheasant hunter, near Dike Road, which is in the Eldorado county hunting grounds. He called us and we organized a meeting in Rippen. Brad, Gabe, and Jordan went with Mr. Forseth to pick it up and interview him.

All the work we put into this project finally paid off as we downloaded all the data and pictures. We would like to thank Airgas for their Helium donation, as well as everyone who gave funds to this project. We plan to launch another balloon in the spring of 2015 in order to observe the atmospheric differences between the seasons.


If you want to find out more about this project you can watch our video "Up Up And Away, Voyage of Space Duck, Low Orbit Science Project" on Youtube.com




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In the winter of 2011, Wildlands Charter School students began producing news stories for our website and an electronic email newsletter.

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