Broadcast 1540 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

04 Apr 2011 Bill Richardson
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Guest: Bill Richardson. Topics: Middle school students launch balloon to 93,000 feet, STEM education, AARL support and more. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. To support this discussion with Bill Richardson, 8th grade history teacher at the Old Town Middle School, Madison School Systems in Ridgeland, MS, please refer to these websites:;;, and We covered many topics with Mr. Richardson over this 90 minute three segment program but this summary skip the traditional three segment summary since we had recurring themes throughout the entire discussion. Mr. Richardson leads a radio club at his middle school and along with support from the science department, the radio club recently launched a weather balloon to 92,098 feet. Mr. Richardson described the hardware and the infrastructure needed to do it, the student experiments on board, the camera system used to take hundreds of digital pictures, the tracking system, and the recover of the balloon. He explained the flight characteristics of the balloon including its bursting at altitude and the recovery. We talked about the students, other middle school programs of a similar kind around the country, and the support and value of the American Radio Relay League (AARL) and ham radio operators in making such programs available. Later in the discussion, we focused on the AARL, what it takes to get a license, the use of Morse Code, and spectrum allocation for users with cubesats or other needs that happens to be free for AARL members. We discussed student perspectives and their having a continued interest in space, engineering and related subjects on into high school and college. Later in the discussion, Bill described some of the future projects his radio club will be undertaking in partnership with similar clubs at other schools around the country. I also asked him about the degree of support for these programs with other teachers in the school and throughout the school system. You might be surprised by this discussion which was started as a result of a listener question. Bill said that one of the most important requirements for doing this is for the teacher to have a passion for what he/she was teaching and undertaking with the students. If you have questions or comments for Bill Richardson, please post them on the blog URL above. You can also email Mr. Richardson at



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