About the team

Mooresville High School (Mooresville, North Carolina) measured the effect of their town’s population growth on air quality, land use, and temperature.

Based on the Town of Mooresville’s growth and development plan, approximately 3,400 acres of land development will occur over the next 20 years and the population will continue to increase. New development and construction equate to potential changes in air quality, temperature, loss of green space, deforestation, and increases in impervious surfaces. Mooresville High School’s CubeSat prototype, BlueSky10, monitored the effect of this growth and provided that data to the greater Mooresville community. The mission aimed to specifically identify what effect the town’s growth has had on air quality, land use, and temperature. BlueSky10 was flown by drone and launched to capture weather and temperature data, air quality data, and land use images around Mooresville.

The BlueSky10 proposal team was composed of eight students from Mooresville High School’s NAF Academy of Engineering, representing grades 10 and 11. BlueSky10 was built and launched through the collaborative efforts of NAF Engineering Academy students, CTE and core classes, school faculty, and community mentors. This project allowed Mooresville’s CTE programs to deepen their connections with community partners, respond to students’ interests in STEM careers, and integrate competitions with student clubs and camps.

CTE Team Lead

Renee Parkman, Engineering, Drafting & Computer CTE Teacher

Learn more

In-depth bios of the team can be found on the BlueSky10 Google Site

Look back at the team’s progress

Bumps ahead — slow but steady progress

March update

What major questions do you hope to answer from testing your prototype? How have mentors helped you refine these questions?

We hope to provide the community with information about environmental air quality and how land use is being affected by development. We have scheduled a Zoom meeting with Judi Sandrock of XinaBox on Wednesday, March 31. We believe that the XinaBox mentors will be able to quickly help us get our CubeSat going.

What has your team learned about the importance of testing, and what career-ready skills have you applied during this process?

We are learning to work with community mentors that “do” engineering in local industry, ask good questions, make revisions, and test our ideas. We have also worked to document their work and research. Each team has a team leader responsible for project coordination and communication.

Our structural team has tested the CubeSat and made multiple revisions to the prototype, but still has more work to do. The computer engineering team has researched components, software, and how to connect and program them. Our launch team is currently researching an alternate method of launch with a weather balloon, since we have been unable to source a drone. The science team has conducted community surveys and continues to work with the Town of Mooresville on identifying appropriate sampling sites.

While testing your prototype, what has surprised you? How have you revised your research question or mission plans based on unexpected results?

No one on our team has experience with programming computer chips. So one surprise has been the need to dig through the information and find the resources we need to make the CubeSat functional.

The science team collaborated with the Town of Mooresville and developed and analyzed data from a community survey to find appropriate sampling sites. We are currently looking for public land close to areas of community concern. The launch team finalized plans to purchase a drone, but have since found that the drone is not currently available from the manufacturer. Instead, we are researching a backup plan. The engineering team has researched how to assemble the components and program the flight and ground station.

With structure and xChips complete, BlueSky10 is launching soon, while programming and drone are next

February update

What aspects of the build and design process did you begin with when starting Phase 2 and how has your mission changed since your original submission?

We began with 3D printing the structure because it is the only part of the project for which we had the materials and a design ready. The students involved with designing the structure are already proficient with the software and very comfortable with 3D printing. During this process, our 3D printers have needed maintenance; they are currently down. Printing the structure gave the engineering team something to physically look at as they tried to envision where the components would go and how those components would fit inside the cube. 

Because we had already organized into teams to write the proposal, we have met every two weeks with the teams to check in, see what action items teams are working on, and where teams need support. 

The mission has changed very little from the proposal. There are details that will be worked out as we research and formulate plans for data collection and launch.

Can you tell us about your team, including: who is on it, the roles everyone plays, the connection to CTE, and mentors you have engaged?

The team is comprised of eight students from the NAF Engineering Academy and two additional upperclassman engineering students. Faculty advisors include:

  • CTE Teacher/Team advisor: Renee Parkman (NAF Engineering Academy teacher)
  • CTE Coordinator and Financier: Julie Blocker (NAF coordinator)
  • Math Teacher/Data Team advisor: Ben Estes
  • English Teacher: Melissa Ligh (NAF Engineering Academy teacher)
  • Science Teacher: Lindsay Smith

Engineering Team: Khadeejah, Isabella, and Drina (10th grade NAF Engineering Academy) are responsible for assembling the computer components into a flight station (the CubeSat), programming the components, assembling the ground station, testing, and gathering data.

Cube Structure: Tristan and Jonas (engineering students who have taken Drafting Engineering Level 3) designed the CubeSat structure and worked to make adjustments to the prototype, along with our community mentor CRP USA.

Science/Data Team: Joseph and Kamryn (10th grade NAF Engineering Academy students) are working on developing a sampling plan for the Mooresville area to find suitable sites for collecting data. They collaborate with the Town of Mooresville. These students will also work with Mr. Estes to convert the data into a usable format to post on our Google Site.

Community Outreach: JonVincent and Caleb (10th grade NAF Engineering Academy students) are building our Google Site to document our journey during Phase 2.

Launch Team: Clark, Caleb, Joseph (10th grade NAF Engineering Academy students) are working on procuring a drone through unmanned vehicle technologies (UVT) to launch our CubeSat.

What have you learned so far? What early successes have you encountered while designing and building your prototype? What challenges?

Our early success this month has been the CubeSat design. So far, we have run into some obstacles: having our 3D printers go down (requiring the scheduling of repairs), waiting for components to ship, and then waiting again to get additional chips.

Khadeejah, Isabella, and Drina participated in an XinaBox webinar on February 23 and researched putting the components together and programming them. Joseph and Kamryn have sent out community surveys to find out what environmental concerns the community values and where to find sites that represent them. They are working with our local Town of Mooresville engineers and learning the process of land development. Clark, Joseph, and Caleb have researched payload capacities and capabilities of drones. They have also learned to work with vendors to find the best drone for our application. Jonas and Tristan have been in communication with engineers from CRP USA to review our team’s CubeSat designs and get feedback for improvement on the application.