The resources below are provided to ballooning team leaders who may wish to offer a High-Altitude Ballooning course for academic credit at their institution. Teaching a credit course is not required; however, team leaders and members should be familiar with all topics listed in the syllabi prior to the May 2023 team leader workshops and Summer 2023 team work, whether that is through an academic credit or extracurricular setting. The suggested syllabi include both technical skills related to ballooning as well as complementary skills that will support students for future STEM careers.

About the syllabi:

  • These are suggestions/templates only; please modify them to fit your own expertise and the requirements of your institution.
  • The syllabi provided are for a 15- or 16-week semester period. For institutions on a quarter system, we recommend expanding the material over two quarters rather than compressing it into one. The content outline will also be useful for an extracurricular or other non-credit situation.
  • Course instructors are not expected to know all the content in the syallabus. All content listed in the syllabi will be provided by the NEBP team through a variety of media: background information videos and daily learning suggestions for instructors; pre-recorded video lectures for students; links to useful readings and websites; multimedia modules created by the NEBP team; discussion guides; and homework suggestions.
  • In addition to background information and course resources on all  the technical ballooning skills, the NEBP team will also provide all resources for students to gain STEM career skills, such as teamwork, communication, project management, and Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion in STEM.
  • NEBP leadership team members will provide regular office hours during Spring 2023 for team leaders who would like support in teaching a High-Altitude Ballooning course.
  • The syllabi below are intended for a 1-credit course, assuming approximately 1 hour per week in class and 2 additional hours per week out of class. This is just a baseline; instructors who wish to include more may consult with their pod leaders to discuss ideas. Instructors who wish to offer the material for 2 or 3 credits can use this same content outline but supplement the material with additional resources from your own background or that are provided by NEBP. If you have the expertise, you may also wish to build in some hands-on skills that students will use eventually, such as soldering.

Resources to download

NOTE: Resources may be updated throughout fall and winter 2022; if you download materials, make sure you have the most current version.

Atmospheric Science-themed Course, 1 credit

Engineering-themed Course, 1 credit

Download syllabus as a PDF (version 8/28/22)

Download syllabus as a .docx (version 8/28/22)

View in HTML (version 8/28/22)

All three versions are the same

Download syllabus as a PDF (version 8/28/22)

Download syllabus as a .docx (version 8/28/22)

View in HTML (version 8/28/22)

All three versions are the same

 

Questions? Comments? Please contact nebp@montana.edu


Atmospheric Science-themed course (see also PDF and .docx version)

Introduction to Scientific Ballooning: The Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP)
Atmospheric Science track

1-credit special topics course

Course description

This course offers an introduction to academic scientific ballooning and a NASA-funded project called the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP). The course previews an upcoming field campaign during which teams across the nation will launch weather balloons into the stratosphere and collect data during two solar eclipses: an annular eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023, and a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

Students in this course will study past eclipse balloon flight campaigns and learn about common platforms and payloads; sensors, electronics and data loggers; communication with ground stations and the FAA regulations related to uncrewed balloon flights; and how to collect, analyze and share data. Additionally, students will acquire complementary skills that support a future STEM career, including teamwork, project management, communication and how to support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access in STEM.

Prerequisites: None

Learning objectives

Students who complete this course will:

  • Identify the details of planning a scientific stratospheric ballooning field campaign
  • Understand foundational information about eclipses, balloon flight trajectories, Earth’s atmosphere and meteorology
  • Understand how to carry out science/engineering balloon-launch campaigns during eclipses
  • Apply best practices for collecting, analyzing and disseminating results
  • Develop and apply STEM career skills such as communication, teamwork, project management
  • Exemplify foundational principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access in STEM

Materials

No textbook is required for this course. Students will access scientific papers, multimedia modules, NASA websites and other resources. All materials are open source and will be provided electronically/online. Internet access is required.

Institution-specific information:

Instructor, time of class and location office hours and location, communication, expectations, grading, attendance, drop/add dates, student code of conduct, institutional policies., etc.

We recommend your syllabus include resources on how you create an inclusive learning environment; links to resources for student well-being and disability accommodations; and a land acknowledgement that is appropriate for your institution.

 

Tentative Schedule:

Week 1:

  • Introduction to Scientific Ballooning, NASA SciAct and the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP).
  • Overview of how the course also includes non-technical STEM career skills, such as teamwork; communication; and project management.

 

Week 2:

  • How to plan a field campaign – teamwork, roles, materials, scheduling.
  • Introduction to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access in STEM; STEM identity.

 

Week 3:

  • Eclipses and heliophysics —historical, contemporary and worldviews.
  • Citizen science and other NASA SciAct projects.

 

Week 4:

  • Introduction to flight, meteorology and Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF).

 

Week 5:

  • Ballooning for scientific data collection; Lessons learned from previous eclipse campaigns
  • Mission planning—Project management, constraints, risks, safety and operations.
  • Balloon trajectory predictions.

 

Week 6:

  • Meteorology – Skew-t plots, temperature lapse rates
  • Overview of radiosondes.

 

Week 7

  • NEBP Big Picture: What happens on the Engineering Track

 

Week 8

  • Meteorology: Sensors and instruments
  • Gravity waves

 

Week 9

  • Teamwork and communication; roles and responsibilities during a campaign

 

Week 10

  • WRF for scientific ballooning.
  • Satellite observations

 

Week 11

  • Radiosondes and Standard Operating Procedures.

 

Week 12

  • Data collection and analysis.

 

Week 13

  • Final launch preparation: Schedule and timing of events pre- and post- flight; launch kits.
  • Contingency planning
  • FAA regulations related to unmanned balloon flights

 

Week 14:

  • Wrapping up a field campaign.
  • Data analysis.
  • Communicating science to peers and to the public.

 

Week 15/16:

  • Final assessments, projects, debriefs.
  • STEM career exploration – next steps.

Engineering-themed course (see also PDF and .docx version)

Introduction to Scientific Ballooning: The Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP)
Engineering Track

1-credit special topics course

Course description

This course offers an introduction to academic scientific ballooning and a NASA-funded project called the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP). The course previews an upcoming field campaign during which teams across the nation will launch weather balloons into the stratosphere and collect data during two solar eclipses: an annular eclipse on Oct. 14, 2023, and a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. Students in this course will study past eclipse ballooning flight campaigns and learn about common engineering platforms and payloads; sensors, electronics and data loggers; communication with ground stations; FAA regulations related to uncrewed balloon flights; and how to collect, analyze, and share eclipse ballooning data. Additionally, students will acquire complementary skills that support a future STEM career including teamwork, project management, communication, and how to support Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access in STEM.

 

Prerequisites: None.

 

Learning objectives

Students who complete this course will:

  • Identify the details of planning a scientific stratospheric ballooning field campaign
  • Understand foundational information about eclipses, balloon flight trajectories, Earth’s atmosphere, and meteorology
  • Be able to design experiments and investigations for a ballooning field campaign
  • Know how to carry out science/engineering balloon-launch campaigns during eclipses
  • Apply best practices for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating results
  • Develop and apply STEM career skills such as communication, teamwork, and project management.
  • Exemplify foundational principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access in STEM.

 

Materials

No textbook is required for this course. Students will access scientific papers, multimedia modules, NASA websites, and other resources. All materials are open source and will be provided electronically/online. Internet access is required.

 

Institution-specific information:

Instructor, time of class and location, office hours and location, communication, expectations, grading, attendance, drop/add dates, student code of conduct, institutional policies., etc.

We recommend your syllabus include resources on how you create an inclusive learning environment; links to resources for student well-being and disability accommodations; and a land acknowledgement that is appropriate for your institution.

 

Tentative Schedule:

Week 1:

  • Introduction to Scientific Ballooning, NASA SciAct, and the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (NEBP).
  • Overview of how the course also includes non-technical STEM career skills, such as teamwork, communication, project management; and diversity, equity, inclusion and access.

 

Week 2:

  • How to plan a field campaign – teamwork, roles, materials, scheduling.
  • Introduction to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access in STEM; STEM identity.

 

Week 3:

  • Eclipses and heliophysics – historical, contemporary, and worldviews.
  • Citizen science and other SciAct projects.

 

Week 4:

  • Introduction to flight, Earth’s atmosphere and meteorology.
  • Introduction to WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting Model)

 

Week 5:

  • Mission planning – Project management, constraints, risks, safety, and operations.
  • Balloon trajectory predictions.

 

Week 6

Ballooning and payloads: Lift, launch, retrieval, payload stringing

 

Week 7

NEBP Big Picture: What happens on the Atmospheric Science track.

 

Week 8

Ballooning path prediction, tracking, and contingency planning

 

Week 9

  • FAA requirements, cut down system, power supply use: battery charging, handling and safety

 

Week 10

  • Payloads and ground stations Part 1: Single board computers, attached sensors, and data loggers;
  • GPS and camera systems.

 

Week 11

  • Payloads and ground stations Part 2: Radios and antennas on the payloads and ground stations
  • Internet requirements for streaming data and balloon tracking

 

Week 12

Fundamental electronics, programming, and mechanics

 

Week 13

Final launch preparation — Logistics, tracking, weather forecasting, data acquisition.

 

Week 14:

  • Launch conclusion: Chase and recovery, wrapping up a field campaign.
  • Data analysis.
  • Communicating science to peers and to the public.

 

Week 15/16:

  • Final assessments, project report, debriefs.
  • STEM career exploration – next steps.

This page was created at Montana State University-Bozeman. We acknowledge and honor, with respect, the Indigenous Nations on whose traditional territories the University now stands and whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. We recognize that a land acknowledgment alone is not enough, but it is a reminder that we are on settled Indigenous land and that we must continuously learn more about these lands and people.