Columbia County students launch weather balloon

Students take the classroom outdoors with hands-on science experiment
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 7:11 PM EDT|Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - On Wednesday, the classroom was moved outdoors, and the content, a hands-on weather balloon experiment. The goal, to record scientific information and recover the balloon once it pops and falls to the ground.

Savannah River Academy 5th Grader Arnay Patel says, ”There’s gonna be 3 balloons in total but for both balloons, we’re gonna be launching there’s gonna be a payload and a parachute.”

The payload contains a camera that will photograph the horizon... it will then be recovered using more technology attached to the balloon. You can track the balloon here, just type in this code K4KNS-11 to the “track callsign” search bar.

“So we’re gonna be using a tracking device to see where the balloon pops and where it drifts off most likely it will be drifting off eastward,” said Patel.

The students weren’t alone today members of the Amateur Radio Club of Columbia County and the National Weather Service in Columbia came out to support the students. Meteorologist John Quagliariello says it’s important for the younger generation to have a good understanding of how launches like this help to create a better forecast.

Quagliariello says, “it’s great for kids to be involved with weather and understand how we make our predictions, it makes them more aware of how our atmosphere works and I think it makes them more prepared when there is hazardous weather because they have an interest.”

The launch definitely caught the interest of many of the students. Some of them already have a passion for weather and space. And later this fall they’ll have another hands-on opportunity when they’ll be able to talk directly to astronauts aboard the international space station using ham radio. Students will wait for the space station to pass directly overhead to ask their questions and they’ll have about 15 minutes before the station moves out of range.

Patel says he plans on asking the astronauts about the views of Earth from the space station and what it feels like to experience zero gravity.

We’ll be sure to follow up with the students later on this year when they talk with those astronauts.

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