Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Weather Balloon

This Tuesday Tech Tip will take a different twist. Instead of offering a practical/how-to tip, we will be giving you a tip as to what is up in the tech world.  This week, we turn inward to a story from CCSD.

What's that up in the air? It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a weather balloon.  A what?

What were you doing on Saturday, May 31st at 4:45 am? Students, teachers, and parents from Aspen Crossing, The Challenge School, Coyote Hills, Independence, Polton, Red Hawk Ridge, and Walnut Hills gathered to launch balloons into near space. The balloon launch, organized by Jon Pierce from the Office of Instructional Technology and under the direction of Joseph Maydell from High Altitude Science was a culminating event to an 8 week science project.  Leading up to launch day, students gathered to learn about space and aeronautic engineering.  This demanding project took STEM to a whole new level in requiring students, teachers and district leaders to engage in collaboration, research and instrumentation of this payload being sent into near space. 

Supporting the effort were Hetty Carlson from Wings Over the Rockies Teacher Flight Program and program participant and CCSD teacher Beth Cohen.  They set up a station for students to make paper airplanes and launch foam rockets.

With FAA clearance, the balloons were filled with helium and released with their payloads at 6:00 am.  The scene was glorious as the seven balloons made their ascent.  Teams and families then gathered in Mission Control to track the flight of their balloons.  The balloons traveled from 3.5 to 4.5 hours at a max altitude of over 100,000 feet and speeds of 900 ft per minute.

All payloads were recovered north east of Denver near Washington County.  The teams are now busy analyzing their data, viewing the camera footage, and evaluating the experiments that were sent up.  

At the end of the day there were many sleepy scientists who now have a new enthusiasm for space. Imagine the impact that this project and others like it will have on the lives of your students.  Our goal is to inspire our future scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians and most of all, dreamers of the future. 

If you want to learn more about similar projects or want to launch a similar large scale STEM project for your students, contact the Office of Instructional Technology,

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