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Tom Foltz and Evan Smith inflate the High-Altitude balloon on launch day. They are wearing gloves because oil from the skin can deteriorate the balloon.
On Friday, November 3, 2017, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School’s STARBASE 2.0 team launched their high-altitude balloon while the entire student body counted down and cheered on.

The launch was the last step in a 10-week STEM project for 20 seventh and eighth graders, and their science teacher, Mrs. Jodi Jump. STEM projects include learning aspects in areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STARBASE Indiana-Fort Wayne partnered with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton School, StratoStar, Inc., ProFed Credit Union and Waynedale Bakery to provide this learning program free of charge.

“Programs like this allow our students to experience different ways STEM is used and the many opportunities for them to continue to learn more about Science in our world around us. It also allows the students to know that Fort Wayne has many opportunities available and that local companies are working to provide for our space programs and military.”

The team met once a week after school for two hours. In order to participate, students had to complete applications through the Department of Defense. They had to be committed to the mission.

STARBASE 2.0 team members were asked to create testable experiments that would be sent into the upper stratosphere via a high-altitude balloon.

“Four teams chose to send some type of food up and will be doing a double-blind taste test. What this entails is that the teams will not know which bag of food samples actually went up in the High Altitude balloon,” said Jump. “Some groups have chosen other students in the middle school to be involved in the double-blind taste test and will have their friends tasting upon return of the balloon.”

Twinkies, S’mores, gum and chocolate were sent up. One group sent a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach up with a camera on it.

“Wisconsin Fast Plant seeds went up and will be grown as the variable of seeds that remained in the classroom,” said Jump. “Also, a group explored taking two sticky notepads and intertwining their pages to see if heat and pressure would allow for someone to pull them apart where they cannot be pulled apart on Earth.”

The balloon’s entire journey was able to be tracked.

“Our balloon reached 96,837 feet in the atmosphere before popping. We reached the upper stratosphere,” said Jump. “We have seen a few pictures and did get the curvature of the earth. We have pictures between cloud layers and are looking forward to topography pictures as well.”

A family in Carey, Ohio received an extra science lesson after Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s High Altitude Balloon landed in their backyard.

“Our Starbase 2.0 team was within minutes of the landing,” said Jump. “The family retrieved it and had a good time talking with our STARBASE staff about this mission.”

This is the second time Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton has participated in STARBASE 2.0. There is a rotation of schools as their program continues to reach out to the local schools.

“We have participated in the Mars Challenge and now the High Altitude Balloon launch. When it is our turn again, we can participate in their Robot Rescue program,” said Jump. “Having already done the Mars Challenge, I can repeat that without their staff and they will make sure I have the supplies needed to offer that program again to our students.”

The Waynedale News Staff
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