Set in Rapid City, South Dakota, Steven’s High School’s AP Physics classes, taught by Dr. Andrew Smith, were tasked with the objectives to produce a system that would effectively purify water that is contaminated with salt, pathogens and diseases.  In addition, to launch a high altitude balloon into the upper atmosphere while taking record of atmospheric data.

The objective of the AP Physics 1 class was to create a cheap and self-sustained water purification unit targeting the poorer regions of Oceanic countries in South East Asia.  The requirements were to fashion a system that would be able to produce viable amounts of clean water and that would be able to fit and ship in a FedEx 25 kilogram box.  It was to meet the following constraints…

  • Provide water that meets relevant water quality standards
  • Use commonly-available materials
  • Be easily assembled
  • Provide water at a low cost/volume
  • Be self-contained with no external source of power
  • Be robust
  • Cost less than $250

The objective in the AP Physics 2 class, was to design, develop, launch, and retrieve a payload from a feat of 120,000 feet in altitude.  It was up to the students to decide what scientific data was to be monitored as well as adhere to all federal regulations. The payload must meet the following constraints…

  • Be tracked throughout the entire flight
  • Return video/photographic evidence of the entire flight
  • Measure temperature (inner and outer) and pressure during the flight
  • Measure acceleration (3-axis)
  • Have a maximum mass of 500 grams
  • Minimize instabilities (especially spinning)

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