Ho Hum, Another Day of School
When I was a geek in high school, I had to toil on my own to find anything cool to do, and I was usually given the “nerd treatment” for my trouble. I didn’t mind all that much, since I thought what I was doing was cool. Apparently, having to find your own way is not so hard these days. Witness Tualitin High School and their warm-up robotics project for the year:
On Friday, the team launched a balloon that rose 120,000 feet into the upper stratosphere. The balloon carried two high-definition cameras programmed to take pictures of the Earth’s topography, its curvature and of space.
“I wanted to do something that’s never been done before, something that just relies on cameras,” said [team captain Matthais] Weislogel, 17. “I wanted to do a full-fledged project, one that would give back to the school and leave a mark for our team. I think and know this program will give kids such a head start for college and work beyond.”
The cameras were programmed to take pictures at a rate of one per minute for the first 80,000 feet, then 1.2 per second for the rest of the ascent. When the cameras are recovered, which hadn’t happened by Monday, the team plans to stitch the images together into a 24-gigabyte hemispherical projection, the first of its kind.
I should add the disclaimer that one of these guys is a friend of mine. Regardless, who wouldn’t have wanted to take pictures of the curvature of the earth when you were in high school? Oh, right none of us, because none of use had that type of imagination.
The coolest thing about working in high-tech for all these years is seeing the positive effects on the new generation. (The worst thing is seeing the negative effects, but that’s another post.) When you can have capable students like this setting lofty goals and accomplishing them, it gives me a shot in the arm to keep going.
Congratulations to the team, and I can’t wait to see the results.