STEM at it’s best! Do not miss this awesome learning opportunity!

Those of us in the STEM education community know that the key is to help students see where science, technology, engineering and math relate to real life.  So, when an opportunity comes along that exemplifies the real life application of STEM subjects we get real excited and real geeky!!  Last week, some friends turned me on to just such an opportunity (Thanks Porter and Bill)

The Red Bull Stratos project is just such an opportunity.  The mission, which has been in the works since 2005, has been dubbed the “Mission to the End of Space”.  It culminates this coming Tuesday when, supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground.  Cool huh?

The educational ramifications are endless!  A visit to the Red Bull Stratos website is enough to make any STEM teacher crazy!  There is tons of information about the mission, the science, the records that are being broken, the experimental design and so much more.  There is information about the role of weather, choosing the perfect location, the requirements for the equipment and even the medical concerns before, during and after the mission.  One of my favorite aspects is that you can follow the mission history.  They have chronicled every aspect.  Students can see that they have been working on achieving this for over seven years.  This reinforces the fact that it takes time to get things right.  An even bigger aspect is that students read about every success and every failure along the way (YEAH FAILURE).  They learn that it takes a cohesive team, time, effort and many many trails to get things just right.  To me, this is the most important message we can send to students.

I invite any educator interested in instilling these ideals to introduce their students to the Red Bull Stratos project.  Break your class up into groups.  Assign each group a different aspect of the mission.  One group can become the experts on the history of the mission, another on science, another on the medical aspects and so on until you have all of the components covered.  Then, watch the launch LIVE on Tuesday October 9th.  Afterwards, each group should evaluate the mission on the basis of their component.  What worked? What didn’t?    Lastly, have each group write, and record a news report based on their expertise.

I would LOVE to see how you incorporate this in your classroom.  Email me, Patti_Duncan@discovery.com  your ideas, and any student work you want to share!

I will be watching Tuesday!  Hope that you will too!

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