Public Lab Research note

Youth Balloon Mapping Workshop

by mjain26 | June 24, 2014 21:39 | 66 views | 8 comments | #10612 | 66 views | 8 comments | #10612 24 Jun 21:39

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What I want to do

My name is Meghan Jain. I am working with the Civic Lab in Chicago. I want to create a workshop for youth in Chicago on Balloon Mapping.

My attempt and results

I have researched what makes a good curriculum extensively. I found that constant feedback and participation is necessary, especially in the realm of science. The attached files are all pieces of the curriculum. The file titled "draft 1" is the outline. The outline includes information and/or tips on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, oil dispersants, how to set up the system, stitch the map, take the images and much more. The file titled "finalstepsbeforeflight" is a drawing of one of the trickier parts of the set up. The file titles "balloon mapping template" is a worksheet for the participants of the workshop.

Questions and next steps

I am looking for feedback on my work thus far. I do want to say that this is a work in progress. Any and all feedback would be greatly anticipated. I am really bad at using markdown so please excuse the simple formatting.





Wow, cool! There are a variety of old curricular content which you might be able to source from or add to: (unfinished)

And this one had been more pitched at adults, i think:

Thanks for sharing!!!

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Perhaps if you posted the curriculum as a wiki page, others could offer edits and so forth? You could pretty much copy/paste it in!

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Cool! you can also grab graphics from our guides if that's helpful.

one note on the balloon connection-- the camera is more stable if you attach it's 10' line directly to the balloon and not below the balloon on the control line.

just ask if you need more graphics or data on the spill-- I'll be following this note.

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matthew, happy for a more stable camera, sad to lose an opportunity to do the coolest knot in the project. it's very satisfying to watch people as they go from a state of disbelief to belief that simply looping the string around the inside of the carabiner a few times will secure it's position.

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right. I always tell them to just "Snap & Wrap"

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in general, this is very impressive Meghan. Great work.

One thing we should discuss is how to take these things and put them in terms that are age appropriate. We should try to meet with Shawndra somehow to get her feedback on how to translate some of this stuff into a guided experience through Q & A group inquirey. Please read the comments below with that in mind too. Also, there are a lot of notes here but I'm not suggesting we do everyone of them. Clearly there won't be enough time.


1) I love that the way you are contextualizing the need through the case study of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. With it being a little over 4 years ago, one cannot assume that a student would know about it fully. It provides a great opportunity to learn some history and some environmental justice issues. Along the lines of the latter, you may want to flesh out the meaning of "accidental oil spill". That is, the accidents could have been prevented. What were the failures of regulation and oversight, previous warning signs, etc. Since this camp has a civic bent in particular, there is an opportunity to also explain how your government works or doesn't, and why.

2) It might be good give a little bit of information on how deepwater oil rigs work. What are the pro's and con's.

3) Maybe a bit of an exploration of energy in general. Probing questions such as: What are some common items that run on oil? Is the gasoline in your car the same thing that comes out of the ground? Have you ever noticed how much a galloon of gas costs? Does it always stay the same price? Where does this fuel come from?

4) I wonder if there is a way we can make the magnitude of the volume of oil more relevant. It sort of has the same problem as the deficit. At a certain point it's just a really big number that has no meaning.

5) This one is for the gulf mappers too. I love that you've given some time to the issue of barriers to access of information by highlighting the cost of helicopter footage. There are a few others i can think of, even if you had a helicopter, was there a no fly zone? There's satellite footage but who controls it and was it publicly available? Gulf mappers, what here the challenges of using the boat? Were there any restrictions? People guarding a radius?

6) Again for the gulf mappers, is there any sort of follow up we can point to? Some sort of, what's happened since then? A way to conclude the story after we are finished with the balloon mapping.

7) Is there a way we can somehow put the campers in the role of the gulf mappers. Can we come up with a scenario? Clearly, we won't have any vast oceans of water to map, but maybe we can put markers around a giant field so that they have something that approximates that challenge of making sure you get all the dimensions of the lake.

8) In general, are there activities we can do to explore some of the mechanics of the mapping setup. For example, could we do an exercise where we have campers stand at 10 foot intervals in a horizontal line. Then we take the camera and take pictures in intervals of 10 feet backwards. This would illustrate how big a picture we'll get when the balloon is in the air.(1000ft = 1000sq/ft).

That's it!

For now...

; )

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Draft starting to come together here:

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good questions. i ll work on answers

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