How many high school students can say they have seen the stratosphere from a GoPro they personally set up on a weather balloon? Bob MacArthur, science teacher, has students who can say they have. This fall, two weather balloons have been launched from Roxborough by students in hopes to find out more about the atmosphere just above them.
For weeks prior, students learn about the earth’s atmosphere layers, weather patterns, and the elements of the atmosphere. Every semester, students launch a weather balloon with a data collector/GPS, 360° camera, and a GoPro strapped to a base and with a parachute ready to deploy. The balloon is filled with helium and launched into the air.
MacArthur said he wanted to do something unique for the students of HR. The launch on Oct. 21, was the 12th launch that has been conducted. MacArthur wanted to create a hands on experience that excites kids.
MacArthur said, “We launch it into the stratosphere, and then a group of us go and retrieve it…and we look at the data right there in the field, so we can be right there, right then, in real time, so it’s an experience.”
Dylen Swan, senior, was part of the recovery team for 5th period. She was in charge of setting up the GPS, which she said was “a vital role in the production of the launch, so that we could retrieve it.” After an almost two hour flight, the balloon landed in a field about an hour east of HR, in Byers, Colorado.
The two meteorology classes had a competition. Whoever got the highest altitude earned either a donut or a pizza party. Period three launched on Oct. 1 and reached an altitude of 110,380 feet. Period five reached 85,167 feet. Even though fifth period didn’t reach the same altitude, they were able to make the GoPro film the final pop of the balloon, which was a goal of theirs.
Students will soon be writing a research paper on their collected data. According to CBS Denver, weather balloons are launched from over 800 sites around the world, including 92 in North America and the Pacific islands, twice a day, every day of the year. MacArthur allows HR to be a part of this statistic.
Jennah Klein, Guest Reporter