Teddy’s world record jump is more than Raspberry Pi in the sky - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 27 August
Babbage the teddy bear has boldly gone where no stuffed toy has gone before - and challenged a world record in the process.
Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 27 August
Teddy’s world record jump is more than Raspberry Pi in the sky
Babbage the teddy bear has boldly gone where no stuffed toy has gone before – and challenged a world record in the process.
After being lifted to a height of 39km beneath a hydrogen-filled balloon, the brave bear leaped to Earth, recreating Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking freefall skydive last year. In fact, Babbage beat the Austrian daredevil's altitude by about 30m.
But while Baumgartner had a team of scientists, the latest computer technology and millions of dollars in funding to aid his mission to become the first person to break the sound barrier without the use of a vehicle, Babbage's skydive was a little more low-tech.
Created by high-altitude ballooning enthusiast Dave Akerman at his home in Berkshire, England, Babbage was equipped with nothing more than a low-cost Raspberry Pi microcomputer. Connected to this were a camera, a GPS unit and a radio to record his journey and transmit his position.
After launching from a field in Newbury, a firing mechanism was triggered when the balloon reached 39km in altitude, pushing Babbage off his cradle and sending him plummeting towards Earth. He parachuted to safety, landing a few miles away in Shaftesbury. The whole trip, from take-off to landing, lasted just over three and a half hours.
Babbage's descent was followed by Mr Akerman and a team of helpers in a specially equipped chase car; they recovered the fearless teddy an hour and a half after he landed.
Mr Akerman, who said the whole flight had gone "brilliantly", has previously launched a number of high-altitude balloons into the stratosphere, including a Raspberry Pi-controlled model of Doctor Who's time-travelling Tardis.
The Pi, which has been marketed to schools as a way to teach coding, has been backed by internet giant Google, which paid for 15,000 of the computers to be distributed in schools in the UK.
- What is a hypothesis? Why is it important for scientists to have one before conducting an experiment?
- What do you think Dave Akerman hoped to prove with this experiment?
- If you were a news reporter covering this story, what would your headline be? Try to make use of a pun or play on words.
- Learn all about space exploration and satellites with this creative group task.
- An excellent resource for teaching all about forces and gravity and to encourage pupils to be inventive.
- A short video that gives and explanation of the various connections on a Raspberry Pi computer.
- A basic bookmark that contains codes and instructions for beginners to get started on Raspberry Pi tasks.
Further news resources
- Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.
- Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.
- A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.
- Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.
- A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.
In the news this week
Nasa scientists have bottled up the Northern Lights by recreating the conditions that cause the natural phenomenon in a laboratory.
Members of a long-isolated indigenous Peruvian tribe have been captured on film during a three-day encounter with outsiders.
Over the last two decades the world’s orangutan population has declined by more than 50 per cent.
For the first time in 35 years, a newly discovered carnivorous mammal living in the Western hemisphere has become an official member of the animal kingdom. And, after a case of mistaken identity spanning half a century, it is not before time.