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MB Students' Balloon Rises 21 Miles (Video)

Mar 30, 2017 05:42PM ● Published by DigMB Staff

A group of 31 Manhattan Beach elementary science students – and their five teachers – put together a remarkable experiment and show this past weekend. (See our video below.)

On Saturday, March 25, they launched a helium-filled High Altitude Balloon (HAB) up into the stratosphere from the football field at Mira Costa High School.

On board the HAB: three cameras, a GPS unit, a series of experiments, and, just for fun, a ball, a grape and a marshmallow – all gorilla-glued onto an arm jutting out from the box of experiments. Because, you know, kids.

After leaving Waller Field, the HAB reached a final (recorded) height of 110,228 feet, just short of 21 miles above the Earth's surface. The cameras recorded video and still photos. The balloon popped, as expected, and the payload hurtled back to Earth. GPS made the recovery possible.

Joanne Michael, science specialist from Meadows Elementary, had run a similar balloon launch for her own students last year. She led the charge with all of the elementaries this year, and had help from each science teacher. The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation and Teachers Driving Innovation committee were "amazingly generous" in supporting the project, according to Mrs. Michael. 

Students at each campus were given different roles, then came together for launch day wearing different hats to get the project in the air. Among the challenges to launching from Mira Costa was getting FAA approval and being in touch with three local airport control towers: LAX, Hawthorne and Torrance, to keep the airspace clear. (Grown-ups helped.)

After all her work preparing for the big day, Mrs. Michael later found herself wading hip-deep in the Salton Sea, retrieving the balloon's payload from its landing spot nearly 200 miles east.

Our video below (about 4 minutes) shows the whole process on launch day, from filling the balloon to retrieving the experiments from the Salton Sea.

Use this link for DigMB's video if you can't make it work below. 

Use this link to see Mrs. Michael's video, which includes some video shot from the "payload" cameras as it lifted off, from up at its peak heights and as it fell back to earth.

And use this link to see a short, edited video from last year's Meadows balloon launch.

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