Linford Science at 100,000 Feet

Weather Balloon Ready for Launch
Weather Balloon Ready for Launch

What happens when a zip-locked bag is sealed and sent 100,000 feet into the air? This was one of many questions Linford Elementary students pondered when sending two balloons into the air from the school playground. Mark Williams, a 6th grade teacher at Linford Elementary, partnering with University of Wyoming scientists, the UW Science Posse and atmospheric science graduate student Phil Bergmaier, coordinated efforts to involve his students in creating experiments for this hands-on experience.

Students hypothesized about what would happen if items were sent into near space altitudes and then returned to earth. Then, they designed experiments to test these theories. The two weather balloons were launched from the Linford playground and reached an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet (near space). Students assisted with loading of the experimental payloads, inflating the balloons with helium and then launching the balloons. The balloons were allowed to rise and drift until they expanded to their bursting point where a parachute took over, safely returning the payloads to the surface. One of the balloons landed just 15 miles from Cheyenne, south of Interstate 80. The other balloon landed on private land just south of Crystal Reservoir, close to Curt Gowdy State Park. The landowner personally delivered the payloads from this second landing site.

Students were then able to answer the question, “What happens when a zip-locked bag is sealed and sent 100,000 feet into the air?” They discovered that the bags were almost vacuum-sealed, prompting extensive discussions about pressure, lower temperatures, altitude, gravity and their affects on the experiments. Students also had the opportunity to write about these experiences and propose new experiments for a future launch.

Radio Transmitter Payload
Radio Transmitter Payload
Balloon Inflation
Balloon Inflation
Balloon Launching
Balloon Launching
Balloon Launched
Balloon Launched