After weeks of waiting, China Primary third and fourth graders took to the CMS soccer field bright and early last Thursday to launch a balloon to the edge of space. The UMaine High Altitude Ballooning Program, funded by the Maine Space Grant Consortium, helps schools around Maine “conduct their own experiments at the edge of space” completely free of charge.
Each payload box containing the objects chosen by the students is attached to a high altitude balloon that is launched up into the stratosphere at an altitude of 30 km or more. Students can track the flight online, and a GoPro camera is included on each balloon to provide students with a video of the flight after it is recovered. This allows the students to explore the effects of high pressure on a variety of objects and even view the Earth from the stratosphere.
The program was first introduced to China Primary by parent Kern Kelly, who had previously done the program with his own students. He helped make the connection between the school and UMaine, and the students have eagerly been awaiting their launch since the beginning of the school year. The atmospheric conditions have to be just right, and Thursday finally offered up the perfect morning to launch the balloon and its cargo.
For their experiment, CPS students sent up pop rocks, a marshmallow, chocolate chip cookie dough, bouncy balls, an egg, and rubber bands. A little wind gave the balloon an extra boost and the launch went off without a hitch. The UMO program then tracked and retrieved the balloon Thursday afternoon, and the students are now looking forward to watching their video at the beginning of the week and are eager to open their payload boxes to discover what happened to their chosen objects. They are hoping to present to the school on Thursday. Stay tuned for the results!