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Chapter 1 and 2

Prior to conducting the PongSat experiment, please teach

chapters 1 and 2 from the Grade 6 Holt Earth Science
Chapter 1, The Nature of Earth Science: This chapter
reviews the scientific method. This is a good opportunity
to compare the scientific method to the engineering
method. Both are beneficial but have distinct differences.
We have chosen to use the engineering method for our
PongSat experiment because it will challenge the students
to use their experiments to solve real world problems
rather than simply prove a previously discovered fact.
Chapter 2, Section 1: Tools of Earth Science: This
chapter reviews the various tools of measurement that the
students will be using during the PongSat experiment.
Stop as they learn about them, so that students have an
opportunity to use them proficiently.

PongSat (Ping Pong Ball Satellite)

Experiment Overview: Students will conduct a science
experiment using the engineering process (rather than
scientific process) to test what happens to an object that
enters the stratosphere in a weather balloon. (exposure to

extreme cold, radiation and low air pressure) Students will

experience the importance of each scientific step.
Students will explore and study the atmosphere,
specifically the stratosphere. Students will utilize metric
scientific tools including but not limited to: triple beam
balance, graduated cylinder, ruler, and hand lens.
NGSS Alignment: MS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-5
Teacher Prep:
1. Refer to:
http://www.jpaerospace.com/pongsat/PongSGuiden.PDF for instructions on how to contact JD
Aerospace to request assigned numbers to label the
2. Purchase the appropriate number of ping pong
balls for your class.

Day 1-2 (more time may be needed):

Teach chapter 14 The Atmosphere: sections 1 and 2
(6th Grade Earth Science by Holt):
Make sure to stop and thoroughly discuss the stratosphere
and electromagnetic radiation.

Day 3:

Introduce PongSat experiment (User guide has details) as

well as engineering process.(below) Have students begin
discussing possible experiments to do in the stratosphere.
First, they must determine a problem to be solved.
Brainstorm possible problems with table partners.

*Encourage students to really solve a problem, not just speculate on

what will happen. This is much more difficult and thought-provoking.
How can we prevent low density objects from expanding?
What types of matter wont expand in the stratosphere?
How can we protect objects from radiation exposure in the
What type of seeds can withstand severe cold, low pressure
and radiation?

Day 4:

Have students work in groups of 2-4 people per group. Today they must
decide on a problem theyd like to solve. Write down or submit the
problem in google classroom for teacher approval.
If time allows this day, each student will begin experiment documentation
on google slides:
a) Slide #1: title: Can be as simple as PongSat or something with
more creativity.
b) Slide #2: Problem: Must be the same for every person in the
c) Slide #3 : Research: Summarize sources and what was learned
about their problem.
Have students visit the following websites to research what happens in the

Day 5:
Work with partner to design a possible solution.
Must be put in writing for approval before students can
2 students send a sunflower seed into the
stratosphere: one seed is protected while the other is

2 students send paper that is reactive to radiation

into the stratosphere: one paper is somehow
protected while the other is not.

Day 6:
Document experiment:
Part I: Document all steps and procedures as slide #4.
This may need to be modified as you progress with
Part 2: Create a data table of before observations
and measurements on slide #5. Use as many tools as
possible: triple beam balance to measure mass, ruler for
length, hand lens noting all features, graduated cylinder
for volume. Leave a blank column for the after data.

Day 7:
Create the experiment.
Students will carefully follow steps as outlined in
procedure. Tape up experiment in numbered ping pong
ball. Decorate the outside of the ping pong ball to
represent you or your experiment.

Teacher will now mail PongSats to JP Aerospace.

Address and packing instructions are in the user
guide above.

Day 8:
Document returned PongSat data.
Students complete slide #5 that has the data. Carefully
measure and make observations of the experiment
recording it in the after column.

Day 9:
1. Slide #6: Summarize your findings. What did you
learn? How does this apply to a situation in real life?
What could you do differently if you had the chance to
do the experiment again? (You might be able to!)
2. Finalize/edit google slides for final product.