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Stories of balloon and kite mapping in education

by warren | 8 months ago | 0 | 1

As part of our series on all the amazing work that's been done with kite and balloon mapping over the years -- work that's led to our new Mini Balloon and Kite kits, today we'd like to highlight a number of educational projects from our community and partners over the years.

Pictured above: Launching a Mini Kite Kit at Parts & Crafts' Girls Invention Week

Parts & Crafts

To start with, this morning we ran an activity with Parts & Crafts in Somerville, Massachusetts, who have been a great partner over the years. Parts & Crafts is a makerspace for kids and their friends, and an alternative school program and DIY-centric camp. They've done a lot of Public Lab projects since the very start, and this week was Girls Invention Week -- so we took the Mini Kite Kite out for a spin with some amazing girl inventors!

We've kite-mapped with Parts & Crafts before, too -- read more about their work at: https://publiclab.org/tag/parts-and-crafts

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Pictured: balloons on Newtown Creek in Brooklyn, NY -- image CC-BY-SA Nicholas Johnson

Public Mapping Mission - Newtown Creek

The Public Mapping Mission was a combination online/offline course and a collaboration between Public Lab, GovLab Academy, the Center for Urban Science and Progress and the MIT Media Lab. The second part of the course was a public event in which participants mapped Newtown Creek on December 7th. This is their story...

After a rainy and cold Friday night, the forecast for Saturday afternoon was looking much better. High of 41ºF with 10-15mph winds from the west, and indeed it was a clear, cold and windy day. Our group of dedicated mappers met at Newtown Creek at the Plank Road site in the afternoon. We were carrying two kites, two Public Lab balloon kits, an 80cf tank of helium and other miscellaneous supplies.

Shortly after our arrival on foot, an armada of canoes from the North Brooklyn Boating Club arrived, reinforcing our efforts and providing naval support...

Read more about their work at: https://publiclab.org/n/9843

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Students building Soda Bottle Rigs for their cameras - photo CC-BY-SA Meghan Jain

A Balloon Mapping Curriculum in Chicago

In 2014, Meghan Jain spent about a month creating a Balloon Mapping Curriculum, which you can download from her post: https://publiclab.org/notes/mjain26/07-28-2014/youth-balloon-mapping-workshop-complete

She and Benjamin Sugar worked at Civic Lab in Chicago with 12-15 students to build rigs and fly cameras using the Balloon Mapping Kit. The curriculum notes that:

When members of a community are faced with a problem, generally they need evidence. Most people rely on labs to produce these studies. Through using balloons and kites to produces areal image data, citizens can increase the amount of power they have. Using a balloon is inexpensive and accessible, which helps members of the community engage in their civic communities. The more they know, they more they can do.

Read more about their work at: https://publiclab.org/notes/mjain26/07-28-2014/youth-balloon-mapping-workshop-complete


Send us your stories!

We're looking for more stories -- and great images -- to highlight, so please tweet out a picture and tell your story -- and mention @PublicLab!

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Challenges, questions and problem-solving together: choosing cameras for Mini Balloon and Kite Kits

by warren | 8 months ago | 0 | 0

Thanks for a terrific first week of our Kickstarter! 47% in our first seven days is awesome -- thanks for your support.

We often talk about how Public Lab is dedicated to collaborative work, and we've mentioned that the new Mini Balloon and Kite Kits are "prototyping kits" -- but we want to get the ball rolling on what exactly we're hoping to collaboratively prototype.

So we'll be announcing "challenges" or "unknowns" that we're inviting folks to chip in their thoughts on -- and if you're already a mapper, to try out yourself.

We'd also love it if people would post their questions, ideas, and challenges, so we can collect them and help get this collaboration going. That's how Public Lab works -- and I wanted to mention that we've been doing this in person as well; at the Appalachia Barnraising (read more about these Public Lab events here) this past weekend, we spent a morning testing out these new kits in Morgantown, West Virginia (lead image).

Online, we've already begun collecting basic information about the kits at these pages on the Public Lab site:

http://publiclab.org/wiki/mini-balloon-kit

http://publiclab.org/wiki/mini-kite-kit

Each has a "Questions" area where you can post your questions, and we've started things off with a few already.

First challenge: choosing cameras!

For today, we want to break the ice with a discussion of weight -- these balloons can lift over 60 grams each, which means that on a perfectly calm day, you can lift one of these GoPro alternatives. But what are the best options?

Have you tried these cameras out? Know of something cheaper, lighter, or better resolution? Of course we've done some preliminary testing, but we're also on the lookout for more lightweight cameras. Tell us what you know!image description

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