Anna Mika, 7th grade teacher at Cumberland Middle School in Cumberland, WI, got her class involved in a high altitude experiment. Anna is a member of the Network of Educator Astronaut Teachers Program, a NASA-sponsored organization, and her class is part of the NASA Explorer Schools program. Anna worked with her students to design a research project that NASA could implement on a high-altitude research balloon. The students’ project was to measure the protection from UV radiation provided by various clothing materials.

In order for their project to make it on the balloon, the students needed to convince NASA the project was viable and to train the NASA scientists to conduct the experiment. In their presentation to NASA, the students described how to use a Vernier LabPro and UVB Sensors to collect data while the balloon is launched to an altitude of approximately 37,800 meters (124,000 feet). NASA accepted the project, and the balloon was launched last April.

The picture shows the case that NASA constructed to hold all of the experiments that were run during the SB.06 mission. (Anna’s equipment is labeled 00-32.) The graph shows data collected during the run. The students noticed a large increase in radiation levels at the higher altitude measured by the unprotected UVB sensor, exceeding the range of the sensor. They also noted very little change in the UVB radiation as measured by the UVB Sensor covered with denim.