Barrie Prep - Grades 6-12

Signature STEAM Courses

To Infinity and Beyond!
Barrie Physics Students Design and Launch a Space Balloon

Barrie School's first High Altitude Balloon (HAB) Project strove to answer the question, "How can we do science in the stratosphere, and what does it take to get there?"

To tackle this project, our 9th graders used their creativity, research skills, and teamwork to design experiments, engineer a capsule to carry their scientific “payload,” and return it safely to the earth. To accomplish this, the students identified and tackled a series of engineering challenges involving overall design, instrumentation, the impacts of extreme temperatures and pressures, and payload recovery.

Our students also navigated the labyrinth of government regulations surrounding unmanned aircraft launches--all the while calculating a launch and return trajectory to avoid the airspace of the DC metro area, the Presidential retreat at Camp David, and other restricted airspace. Student teams corresponded with the FAA, designed and tested aerodynamic properties of payloads, built radar reflectors, ran control experiments, and much more.

Based on extensive student discussion and debate, our final experimental payload included the following sensors:

  • GPS tracker
  • Air pressure
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Ionizing radiation (Geiger Counter to measure cosmic rays in space)
  • GoPro Hero 5 camera
  • YI 360 camera

Other Experiments:

  • Bubble Wrap effectiveness - to test whether common packing materials would work in the stratosphere
  • Egg survivability to determine whether a raw egg would break/cook from the environmental conditions at high altitude
  • Plant survivability - unprotected carrot shoots were sent up planted in test tubes filled with soil
  • Ice Cream production - students created a simple ice cream maker, in order to observe whether ice cream could form at high altitude
  • Phase changes - various liquids were sent up to note potential phase changes at various altitudes

While not all experiments were successful due to our cameras cutting out early, Barrie's first HAB launch was a significant achievement! The balloon reached an altitude of 92,000 ft. above sea level, and broadcasted sensor data throughout its flight. Next year's 9th graders will learn from the successes and challenges of our first launch, and design their own set of experiments and payloads to fly next spring!

Maker Physics and Engineering 8

This project-based exploration of Newtonian mechanics will introduce Barrie’s 8th grade students to physical science in ways that are experiential, engaging, and exciting.

Students will learn about velocity, acceleration, and aerodynamics by building carbon dioxide powered miniature drag racers capable of traveling 70 mph.

Students will also learn about the phases of matter and phase changes by competing to build the best solar water still, a common method of purification in developing nations.

Students will then go back in time, each constructing a camera obscura, one of the earliest forms of camera in an effort to investigate optics and the physics of light.

To discover the fundamentals of energy, the course will include another design competition involving the development of wind turbines.

The final project of the year is a longstanding Barrie tradition - the cardboard boat races.

In this project, students learn about buoyancy, hydrodynamics, materials, and structural engineering by creating seaworthy cardboard boats that they race against each other while the Barrie community cheers them on.

Planetary Science and Astronomy 9

This course will include an extensive study of rocketry to investigate advanced concepts in velocity, acceleration, vertex calculations, and propellant systems.

We will also explore waves by creating radio telescopes, and study planetary science by building simulated planetary rovers and drones with instruments designed to measure temperature, wind velocity, and atmospheric pressure.

The culminating project will be for students to design and launch a space balloon to 90,000 feet with a student-designed instrument package. (Click here to see how amazing this project will be for students.)
This course will cover the core concepts in a standard 9th grade physics class and will also incorporate an extended 6-day fall trip to a research center in Huntsville, Alabama at attend the NASA sponsored Space Academy and participate in astronaut gravity and mission simulators.

The cost of this trip is already embedded in Barrie’s 9th grade tuition and will be offered at no additional cost to families.

Watch this video to see a preview of how the Space Balloon project will work for our 9th graders.

Marine Science

This experiential science elective for 11th and 12th grade students will provide a comprehensive introduction to marine biology, explore marine vertebrates and invertebrates, and investigate selected topics in environmental science and oceanography.

This will be a lab-based course with substantial off-campus field trips, including an extended spring semester elective block so that students can participate in a three-hour field trip or lab experience each week during the 3rd trimester when the weather is great for studying marine science outdoors.

The culminating experience in this class will be a 9-day expeditionary Extended Study Week to explore marine ecology and coral reefs while living at a research station in Belize. Yes, Belize! This ESW will be chaperoned by two Barrie teachers and will be organized by Ecology Project International, an educational company that specializes in this trip.

All students and families should note that participants in this class must: 1) demonstrate the ability to swim or a willingness to enroll in a swimming class, 2) still take Barrie’s standard Biology course in order to graduate, and 3) understand that enrolling in this class means that the trip to Belize will be their ESW trip for the Spring of 2019. There is financial aid available to make it possible for all interested students to enroll in this class. (see below)

The cost of this trip is $3,695 per student (with airfare included) which is on par with most international ESWs. We have a scholarship fund available so that every student who qualifies for the class has a genuine opportunity to enroll in the class. Here is how it works: all families will pay a pro-rated fee for the trip tuition based on their family’s tuition obligation in 2018-2019. For example, if a family receives 20% of their tuition in financial aid, they would receive a 20% financial scholarship toward this ESW trip. If a a family receives 50% of their tuition in financial aid, they would receive a 50% financial scholarship on the trip, etc. We anticipate that a number of students may get a summer job to help pay for this trip, which is ideal because they would have a full year between being selected for this course before departing to Belize.

Please note that only 15 spaces are available for this class. Priority will be given to seniors and then to juniors during course registration in April. All participants must have a 3.0 grade point average to be eligible.

Middle School Maker Space Lab

For our students who just can’t get enough tinkering and STEAM related opportunities, our physics teacher Rob Kim will lead an after-school Maker Space lab for middle schoolers where they will be involved in hands-on projects in engineering, innovation, and science-art experiences. More details will be shared about this class this spring as it will be embedded in our broader Extended Day program opportunities for Middle school students.