Project SMART: A UNH-Sponsored Outreach Program for High School Students

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Charles William Smith, University of New Hampshire Main Campus, Durham, NH, United States, Louis Broad, Timberlane Regional HIgh School, Plaistow, NH, United States, Scott Goelzer, Coe-Brown Academy, Northwood, NH, United States and Richard Levergood, Londonderry High School, Londonderry, NH, United States
Every July the University of New Hampshire sponsors a 4-week outreach program called
Project SMART (Science and Mathematics Achievement Research Training) that is primarily aimed
at rising high school juniors and seniors. The program attracts students from around the country
and around the world for a 4-week residential program on the main campus. There are 3 components:
biotechnology and nanotechnology, space science, and marine and environmental science. The talk
will focus on the space science component. Mornings are spent in group projects that include
advanced high school classes, laboratories, and demonstrations while afternoons are spent with the
UNH space physics faculty involved in actual research projects that are at the core of the faculty
interests and efforts. As a group they learn to build electronic circuits, study core physics
questions from momentum to relativity, and construct the payload for a high-altitude weather
balloon that is launched at the end of the third week. This year's payload included cameras,
temperature sensors, a miniaturized Geiger counter, a sun sensor, a prototype UV and IR spectrometer,
GPS, onboard central computer and power bus, and communications. While the balloon payload is a
lot of fun, it also provides a focus for a wide range of physics and engineering issues that can
be incorporated into high school physics education. We have also pioneered the use of descent
vehicles that do not require parachutes. The research projects spanned the range from magnetometer
boom design and testing, energetic particle distributions in the magnetosphere, coronal mass ejections,
the heliospheric magnetic field, magnetic reconnection, etc. At the end of the month the students
present their work in a poster session attended by the UNH faculty. To learn more, you can go to:
http://projectsmartspacescience.sr.unh.edu/ .