Up, up and . . . Butte Creek students reflect on balloon launch lessons

June 2017 Posted in Community, School
Butte Creek HAB Team working with Silverton High prepares for launch.      Steve Beckner

Butte Creek HAB Team working with Silverton High prepares for launch. Steve Beckner

ditor’s Note: This story is written by the Butte Creek High Altitude Balloon Team. Silverton High will launch a weather balloon as part of a NASA program during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will be passing over Silverton. A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves in between the Earth and the Sun. In doing so it creates a path of darkness, called the “Path of Totality.” When you look up at the eclipse, it can still be super bright so make sure you wear your safety glasses! This is a very rare event, truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

We are serving as a practice launch for the Silverton High School’s launch for the solar eclipse. Our job was to design and build a “payload” or container that will take flight, that is attached to the balloon. When designing the payload we had to keep in mind all of the experiments and data that we wanted to collect.

When we send up the Balloon we will be collecting a variety of data. One of the things we will be looking at is temperature. We are measuring the temperature so we can see how it changes at varying altitudes. We are also measuring air pressure. We are measuring air pressure so we can see how it varies at different altitudes as well. Measuring these variables will teach us about our atmosphere, and how common things change the further up we measure.

Another experiment we will be conducting is attempting to make ice cream by sending the ingredients up with the payload. We will be sending an insect up too, in order to see how it reacts to the effects of high altitudes.

We will be recording the entire flight of the balloon using a GoPro camera, so
we can experience the ascent and descent from a different point of view. With the footage, we will get a once in a lifetime sight of the troposphere.  

When building anything in science we usually follow a design process. When building this we had to stay below ten pounds and be able to include a few different pieces of equipment like the GoPro, air pressure measurement device, a thermometer, and a bag full of ingredients for ice cream. After we found out what we needed to do we decided to make different payloads and vote on them. When everyone finished we voted on our favorite with the most usability. The one we voted on will be going 9,000-20,000 ft. on our launch date, and hold all of our supplies.

With this project we have learned to trust everyone in order to finish the job because if only one person is trusted, we are not using everyone’s talents. When only one person is coming up with the ideas, often people will start arguing about how they want their payload to be. We are all grateful to be working with Silverton High School and this was our opportunity to work with them. And honestly, if we hadn’t cooperated with each other, we wouldn’t have made our launch date. This has been a huge learning experience so far, and we are all so thankful for this opportunity!

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