An ambitious project literally reached new heights as a space balloon was launched as a class project by fourth and fifth grade students. At Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy students gathered to witness the launch of the space balloon which took months to make.
The gifted students had the objective of capturing an image of the curvature of the earth, under the guidance of teacher Kyle Frederick.
“We invited the whole school to come out and watch,” said Principal Jo Dinnan. “We’re all excited.”
To acquire the photo, the space balloon had to be designed just right. A special large latex balloon full of helium was used to attain maximum height. Attached to the balloon was a securely sealed container consisting of a GPS transponder to track the balloon and send signals to Frederick’s computer, and a GoPro camera to capture the view. A parachute was attached between the balloon and the container.
Frederick’s fifth-grade students, with his direction, worked together to get the various materials ready while the crowd looked on eagerly.
“If everything goes well, that balloon will get up to about 100,000 feet … about 20 miles up in the air,” Frederick said, addressing the group.
“As the balloon rises, the pressure in the atmosphere decreases, so the balloon gets bigger and bigger and eventually it’ll get too big, and what will happen?” Frederick asked the crowd.
“Pop, it’ll pop,” onlooking students answered.
“Right, it will pop,” Frederick said. “When it pops, it will start falling and that parachute will open, bring it back down to Earth safely and that GPS transponder will tell me exactly where it is so I can drive and go get it,” he added.
Frederick said he actually got the idea from a similar project he saw featured on a news channel several years ago.
“I started looking into it, and all the math and science involved is really right on (the students’) level,” he said. “So I thought, wouldn’t that be cool to make that a project for us to do, so that’s what we started the year doing.”