We started the school year by focusing on a grant from McGraw / Hill. We were successful in procuring$2,500 which will enable PENS to continue for another year. Thank-you McGraw / Hill !!We are planning two flights this year which will include a flight for the Pella Middle School eighth grade science class and one for the Pella Community, Pella Christain, and Pella Homeschool groups.

Pella Community High School has two different groups working on experiments this year. A small group from the science / STEM area is working on an experiment with tardigrades and a second group is working on a "GliderSat" and also being trained to be part of our launch and recovery team. This group is part of the STEAM group includes Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. In this group, we must be more creative in order to achieve our objectives!

Our first group of students at Pella Community High School has built a "GliderSat". Their objective is to utilize robotics to launch a glider between 70,000 and 80,000 feet. This is to be accomplished by utilizing a BalloonSat Easy and a servo. A pressure sensor will detect a specific altitude and then will activate a servo to launch the glider. The glider is rubber-band propelled and has contact information written all over the glider. The glider is a Diamond 600 Glider. We tried building our own but this one flys much better. There is also a camera mounted inside the GliderSat box that will video the launch. Since the sd-1400 camera is new to CHDK, we are putting a timed delay before turning on the camera. We get one hour of video will estimate when we reach 60,000 feet and have it turn on. The camera will video the back side of the glider when it is launched. Click the video below, to see a test launch.

Sara and Simon show off their "GliderSat"

Group two is working with tardigrades, or Waterbears. These are little critters (about a millimeter long) that can withstand and survive life-ending environments to all other living creatures that we know of. When exposed to harsh environments, tardigrade go into a embyonic state and stay there until the environment is suitable for continuing their lives.

This experiment will place tardigrades in a Celestron-44311-Handheld-Digital-Microscope and vido the tardigrades as they enter the harsh environment of near space. Hopefully, we will watch the tardigrades go into their embyonic state.

On the left we have Noah preparing his Go-Pro Hero II for a flight. On the right, Noah watches Mr. Morgan vacuum test the pressure sensor in the 8th grade weather satellite.

Pella Christain has their hands full this year. They are constructing the "brains" of the entire flight. That means they are building the GPS transmitter and receiver (APRS) and also the cut-down electronics.

It looks like a mess, but hooking up all the electronics parts on a breadboard is how you start out making it work.

This picture says it all. The Pella Christain project is tansmitting correct APRS data to this amateur radio receiver.
Above are Pella Christain students learning about and writing computer software, assembling the electronics, and building the micro-sat box that will contain and protect all of their work as it flys into near space.

Pella Christian High School representitives to the PENS program. Congratulations on a job well done!

Grace is constructing one of the Peace Homeschool projects. Following are photos of Grace covering her project with ripstop nylon.

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This is where the prediction software said we would fly. This is where we actually flew.

Coverage by the Des Moines Register

On-board Go-Pro II Camera