Written by Edward Robinson
Whenever we begin discussing RASCube with a new school or organisation, one very common question arises:
"Ok... so once assembled, what do we actually do with this?"
To us here at Robinson Aerospace, it's very clear, but that's because these kits are our life! For those who are new to RASCube, here are some of the basic ways to use RASCube, and some much more innovative ideas that our Pilot Program schools have pursued.
At the most basic level, RASCube has three main uses.
1. Assembly - Gaining STEM skills through assembling a 'real' satellite
2. Experimentation - Conducting scientific experiments, analysing the data and writing reports
3. Design - Designing electronic, mechanical and software add-ons to expand RASCube's functionality
With our included lesson plans, students can assemble RASCube and learn about space technology, space careers, sensors, basic physics concepts, graph data in Excel and understand the importance of satellites... all while working through engaging hands-on activities.
But none of this is very specific, so lets dive deeper!
Key Lesson Plans (Yrs 8-10)
Lesson Plan: Getting Started
Getting Started is the starting point for all classes. During these 3-4 lessons, students learn about space technology and the importance of satellites, before assembling RASCube for the first time. Once assembled, students go through short activities to gain an understanding of what sensors are inside of RASCube and what data they can receive. To finish off, there is a Space Careers slideshow, which profiles people from a broad range of careers within Australia's space industry, exposing students to the endless opportunity of space.
Lesson Plan: Sensor Experiment
Sensor Experiment prompts students to design and conduct an experiment using the sensors inside of RASCube. For classes with limited time, three options for basic experiment methods are included. Once the experiment has been conducted, students write a report to investigate the results by using knowledge gained from a previous lesson, Interfacing with Excel.
All lesson plans are linked to the Australian Curriculum, and we are working on further plans to be linked to NSW's iSTEM.
Craigmore High School: Hot Air Balloon Flights
There is a bit of planning involved here, but the data from this test was extremely interesting! Digital technologies teacher, Kristian Allen, decided that using RASCube in-class just wasn't cool enough, so he took it to new heights. RASCube was securely positioned in a hot air balloon, with a USB connection to a laptop to record the flight data. The balloon took off North of Blanchetown, South Australia, and travelled South along the Murray River for the hour-long flight.
By graphing and analysing the data, they could see the altitude, GPS map, power fluctuations, compass heading, speed, temperature and much more.
Pedare Christian College: Data Visualisation Software
Now these are some seriously smart students!
Technologies teacher Emil Zankov set his students the challenge of displaying RASCube's downloaded data in their own software. Each group of students produced an incredible result, but one group in particular blew our minds. These students designed software to graphically show RASCube's acceleration vectors at any time from the data collected. You could even choose to play the data as an animation, or choose which timestamp was shown!
Fleet Space Technologies: Work Experience Program
This one isn't quiet a school, but we had to include it!
South Australian satellite manufacturing company, Fleet Space Technologies (Fleet), use RASCube in their work experience program. The week-long program immerses senior students in every aspect of Fleet's operations. They spend time working with a range of teams, from engineering to marketing... and as part of their journey, they assemble RASCube and conduct an experiment. This is a great example of how RASCube can be used away from the classroom!
None of these ideas are 'super simple' to implement, but it will be well worth the effort when you see just how excited your students are about space and STEM.
For fast/easy to implement activities, see our lesson plans or activity booklet (coming soon!).
Tethered Weather Balloons
When we say 'weather balloons', we aren't referring to huge and expensive balloons that float up to ~40Km. There are much more simple ways to create similar activities!
RASCube will beam down all of its usual data, allowing students to see differences in pressure and altitude, and other very interesting dynamics. Add a small action camera (and more balloons) for some cool footage!
Picture groups of students roaming your school with RASCube, executing different challenges to find the GPS coordinates of the next clue! Students start by receiving a series of directions to follow, leading them to their first clue. That clue contains an activity or challenge which utilises RASCube's sensors. Once the group has the correct answer, they're given the next coordinates.
We haven't tested this concept before, but if planned well, we can imagine it would be a very engaging and highly memorable experience for students. Should we develop lesson plans for this?
It's entirely up to the educator's objectives as to how far they dive down the RASCube rabbit hole. If you want to use RASCube to quickly and easily teach space technology and STEM concepts, then following our lesson plans is the direction for you. However, if you want to do some extremely awesome activities with your students, then the sky is no longer the limit...
Please don't hesitate to contact us anytime for questions or support!
- Edward Robinson, Co-founder and developer of RASCube