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Brave Hearts Clubs at Tarrant and Jones Magnet Middle Schools work with NASA’s AEROKATS and ROVER Education Network


Members of the Brave Hearts clubs at Tarrant Middle School and Jones Magnet Middle School have been learning about remote sensing this spring with NASA’s AEROKATS and ROVER Education Network (AREN). Brave Hearts is a national program started in 2015 to empower middle school-aged girls through opportunities that help them build confidence and leadership skills. Brave Hearts was started in Hampton City Schools by former ELA curriculum leader, Dr. Kelli Cedo.  


HCS STEM Teacher Specialist Betsy McAllister learned about AREN in her role as educator in residence at the National Institute of Aerospace. She reached out to AREN leads Andy Henry, principal investigator for the AREN project, and Geoffrey Bland, research engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center at Wallops Island, who enthusiastically committed to work with Brave Hearts and donated the equipment for the project.


AREN had their first virtual meeting with the Brave Hearts girls in February where they explained the purpose of their organization. AREN’s mission is to introduce students to NASA technologies and practices in authentic, experiential learning environments through the use of low-cost systems (such as kites) that can remotely sense Earth observations. Under the guidance of Henry and Bland, and club sponsors Tijuania Lambert (Jones) and Paulette Townsend (Tarrant), each girl constructed and decorated their own frustrationless flyer kite.


In March, girls again met virtually with the AREN staff to prepare for their first flight (mission). They learned how to plan and set goals for their kite flying missions, the importance of communication during missions, how to record data in their flight logs, safety procedures, and how to process their missions upon completion. In addition to Lambert and Townsend, the girls were assisted by McAllister and Margie Ware, Kecoughtan High School science teacher, who both completed AEROKAT training during the summer of 2021. The girls worked in pairs, assuming the roles of pilot and launcher, and completed their first mission successfully flying their frustrationless flyers! A great time was had by all!


In April and May, Brave Hearts met again with the AREN staff. They were introduced to how a GitUp camera could be attached to a 7-foot Rainbow Levitation Delta kite to collect in-flight photographs. Both Tarrant and Jones clubs had successful missions. Photographs taken during flights were submitted to the Earth from Above Aerial Imagery Challenge. The Jones Brave Hearts learned about wind speed limitations for the 7-foot Delta kite when gusts in excess of 28 mph broke the spreading spar, bringing their kite to the ground.  


AREN will continue its work with the Brave Hearts clubs during the 2022-2023 academic year, to demonstrate how sensors can be attached to kites to collect weather data and how aerial images taken by kites can be used to examine land cover.  

If your school is interested in starting a Brave Hearts club for the 2022-2023 school year, please contact Tracie Judd (tjudd@hampton.k12.va.us) or Latosha Brown-Davis (lbdavis@hampton.k12.va.us).