100 Collaborative Research between Lake Nona High School and 45th Weather Squadron

Monday, 7 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jessica D. Rapp, Lake Nona High School, Orlando, FL; and W. P. Roeder

A collaborative research program was formed between Lake Nona High School and the 45th Weather Squadron. The 45th Weather Squadron is the U.S. Air Force unit that provides weather support to America’s space program at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA Kennedy Space Center. The advanced placement statistics and advanced placement calculus classes at Lake Nona High School performed two research projects for the 45th Weather Squadron. This was done at no financial cost to either organization. The goal was to do research for 45th Weather Squadron and to increase the high school students’ interests in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) topics. A business paradigm was used where 45th Weather Squadron specified the research requirements and the students decided how to meet those requirements. Therefore, in addition to increasing interest in STEM topics, the students also gained experience in leadership, management, followership, teamwork, planning, and scheduling.

The first project was the development of a climatology of the Lightning Launch Commit Criteria, the complex weather rules to avoid natural and rocket-triggered strikes to inflight space launch vehicles. The frequency of violation of the Lightning Launch Commit Criteria was determined seasonally, diurnally, by individual rule and for any rule. The data were from observed Lightning Launch Commit Criteria observed during launch windows from 2005-2017. This climatology can be used in extended launch forecasts, mission planning, and setting research priorities in improving the Lightning Launch Commit Criteria. This climatology has already been used to justify and obtain the ‘Cumulus Electrification Study’.

The second project by Lake Nona High School was updating the sources of weather deaths in Florida from 1987-2016. This research provided the number and percent contribution of weather deaths from various weather phenomena. The research also showed that the relative contribution of lightning to Florida weather deaths has been decreasing with statistical significance, falling from the strong leading source of weather deaths to a distant second place. This suggests that the increase in lightning safety education in Florida starting in the late 1990s has been effective. These results are used to optimize the weather safety education program by 45th Weather Squadron. These results can also be used by all parties interested in optimizing weather safety education in Florida.

A third project by Lake Nona High School was writing software to simulate a plinko machine, which can be used to teach the Central Limit Theorem in statistics, both in statistics class and in science fair training. A plinko machine demonstrates random behavior by dropping small balls through a grid of small posts with the balls accumulating at the bottom of the device. This part of the project was not done for 45th Weather Squadron.

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