Scientists at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s (HBKU) Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) are working closely with students from Qatar Academy, a member of Qatar Foundation, to launch the Near Space Anthem Project.
The project, which recently had its practice session at the HBKU Research Complex in Education City, involves sending out a weather balloon to capture a video of the national flag descending from near space to Qatar, with an audio of students singing the national anthem. The 10 participating students from Qatar Academy’s Gifted and Talented Program are involved in all facets of the project, including project design, balloon launch, data analysis, photography and filmography. It is an interdisciplinary project bringing together science, research, music and documentary.
Scientists from QEERI’s Air Quality and Climate Change research portfolio are supporting various stages of the project and have been helping students understand the science involved by providing the necessary hardware and software, as well as organizing a test run. The activities align with QEERI’s mandate to inspire young minds and promote creative applications that encourage innovative thinking and novel design tactics among students.
Dr. Luis Ackermann, research associate at QEERI, said: “It is a pleasure to work with these high school students. Such a project not only helps them understand the theory involved, but also gives them firsthand practical experience. We are truly impressed with the solutions that the students have developed for the complex design issues they encountered.”
The idea for the project originated in 2016 but only materialized after meeting with QEERI scientists. Jason Maraku, a teacher at Qatar Academy Doha and a coordinator for the Gifted and Talented Program, said: “For our students, this project is a unique learning experience in various disciplines. We have been working on this idea for a while. Having QEERI on board has catalyzed the project and made it a reality. Their input have been invaluable to our students.”
Usama Usman, a Grade 12 student who is also one of the participants, described the experience of working with QEERI’s scientists as both inspiring and educational. “This session with the scientists has been all that we expected, and even more. It is interesting to see how science is applied in real life, and how we can actually apply the scientific principles we learn about in class. I look forward to more informative sessions with the scientists.”
The Air Quality and Climate Change Portfolio also works with students on a number of other projects. The Air Quality Monitoring Station installed at the American School of Doha has helped students get a better understanding of atmospheric pollutants and particles in the air.
The Near Space Anthem Project is expected to conclude in April 2018.