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Lake Nona High School Completes Third Year of Collaborative Research with 45th Weather Squadron

Students from Lake Nona High School attend a briefing from the 45th Weather Squadron, April 27, 2018 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Students from Lake Nona High School have collaborated in research with the 45th Weather Squadron for three years. (U.S. Air Force photo by 45th Space Wing Public Affairs)

Students from Lake Nona High School attend a briefing from the 45th Weather Squadron, April 27, 2018 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Students from Lake Nona High School have collaborated in research with the 45th Weather Squadron for three years. (U.S. Air Force photo by 45th Space Wing Public Affairs)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Lake Nona High School have completed three years of research for the 45th Weather Squadron (45 WS).  They presented their results to 45 WS and Kennedy Space Center on April 27.  The attendees were impressed with the quality of the research, professionalism and poise of the students.  The results are also being shared with the Lightning Advisory Panel, National Weather Service/Melbourne, and the National Weather Service Lightning Safety Working Group.  Lake Nona High School and 45 WS are already planning for their fourth year of collaborative research.  
  

The AP Statistics and AP Calculus classes did two research projects this year.  The first project was year-3 of developing a climatology of the Lightning Launch Commit Criteria (LLCC).  The LLCC are a complex set of weather rules used to avoid natural and rocket-triggered lightning strikes to inflight rockets.  Part of that project included writing a computer program tool for the 45 WS Launch Weather Officers that will take any user-specified date and time and provide the climatological probability of a LLCC violation.  This project will help in mission planning, long-range launch forecasting, and even guide research to improve the LLCC. 

The second project was year-2 of updating causes of weather deaths in Florida.  This will aid in weather education.  The most important results are that rip currents have become the dominant source of weather deaths in our state and that lightning has dropped from number one to a distant second place. 

The students also did a third project, writing a computer program to demonstrate the Central Limit Theorem in statistics by simulating a Plinko game and showing how the Gaussian distribution, aka Bell Curve, emerges from random behavior.  This will be useful in teaching statistics and in science fair education.  

This program adopts a business paradigm where 45 WS specifies the deliverables but it’s up to the students to decide how to provide those deliverables, e.g. how to organize into teams, pick team leaders, schedule the work, conduct meetings, test results, and prepare and present briefings and reports.  As a result, the students don’t gain just research experience, but they also learn leadership, organization, management, and communication skills.