Students at Miami Middle School recently sent a science experiment more than 90,000 feet in the air to get a little taste of the atmosphere – and of some science.
For about the last five weeks, students at the school have been working with their science teachers preparing a test balloon to launch skyward.
On a warm autumn afternoon about two weeks ago, students and teachers filed outside the school, located at 8100 Amherst Drive in Waynedale, and let their experiment float toward the clouds.
On board the craft, which was about the size of a weather balloon, kids and teachers had attached several experiments to see the effects of high altitude. Included on board were a GoPro camera, as well as a couple of other cameras. There also was food, swamp water, and some Alka-Seltzers to see if the medicine would bubble up in the thin air. And there was a GPS unit on board to help track the craft.
The experiment was all a part of STARBASE 2.0, which encourages children to get excited by STEM. STEM is the educational acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The program partners with the U.S. Department of Defense, and seeks to serve students that are historically under-represented in such areas of study. Target groups for STARBASE include those in inner cities, rural locations or those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. The program does its best to encourage kids to set goals and achieve them.
This was the first year such an experiment has been done at Miami; Kekionga Middle School did a similar test last year. This year, at Miami, about 15 students were involved with the balloon – sixth, seventh and eighth graders – as well as two or three STARBASE instructors.
The results were a definite hit.
“We looked at the pictures taken from high altitude,” said Tony Schaefel, a seventh grade Miami science teacher who assisted with the project. “We even shared those photos with the other (science) classes. They were just fascinating.”
Schaefel said that the balloon eventually wandered up to about 96,000 feet – all the way into the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. About two hours after its launch, the balloon drifted back to Earth in a cornfield just south of Defiance, Ohio, according to Scott Liebhauser, Executive Director of STARBASE. He said it took about 30 minutes to find and recover the craft.