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Middle school skies full

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The sky over the Clear Creek Middle School was full on Oct. 28 with two different forms of aircraft. As part of a multipart curriculum for the eighth grade class, students helped to launch a weather balloon off of the football field. The balloon combines uses GPS imagery to help predict and read weather patterns. The LIFT project is a NASA funded program that allows college  students to help teach and collaborate with K-12 students about STEM. Meanwhile the seventh grade drone class flew a drone over the field to record the launch and practice using the drone. 

Students who weren’t helping directly were asked to spread around the field

Before launching the weather balloon, students who weren’t helping directly were asked to spread around the field on Wednesday morning on the middle school football field. The kids were asked to stay 6 feet apart if they didn’t wear their masks or could stand together if they did wear them.

Dane Christoffersen, left, talks with the middle schoolers about the thickness of the balloon

Dane Christoffersen, left, talks with the middle schoolers about the thickness of the balloon material on Wednesday morning on the middle school football field. Dane is one of the multiple UW students who is helping with the project, taking the balloon around the state to launch with different school programs.

The weather balloon was released from the Clear Creek Middle School football

The weather balloon was released from the Clear Creek Middle School football field in Buffalo and landed north of Wright on Wednesday morning. The flight was expected to last around three hours during which time the balloon gathered GPS and weather information through a process called radio occultation.

Quincy Ochs holds up the drone while teacher Rick Sanchez sets up the headset

Seventh grader Quincy Ochs holds up the drone while teacher Rick Sanchez sets up the headset before they place it down on the ground to launch on Wednesday. The seventh grade class used the drone to record the eighth grade class’s weather balloon launch.

The drone hovers above the ground as teacher Rick Sanchez explains how to launch

The drone hovers above the ground as teacher Rick Sanchez explains the process of launching the drone to his seventh grade drone class on Wednesday morning on the football field. The class is offered to seventh graders in the fall semester and to eighth graders in the spring.

Cole Rasmussen, Zach Freise, Ryan Rasmussen and Jeron Sutten help carry the different hanging components

From left, eighth graders Cole Rasmussen, Zach Freise, Ryan Rasmussen and Jeron Sutten help carry the different hanging components of the balloon on Wednesday morning on the middle school football field. They helped carry all the pieces to the center of the field where it was launched.

Eighth grader Chance Culliton records the weather balloon launch

Eighth grader Chance Culliton records the weather balloon launch while watching with friend Kolby McDougal on Wednesday morning on the middle school football field. Many of the kids recorded the balloon launch with their phones while others jokingly saluted and others yet just watched.

The weather balloon slowly rises away balloon holder Phil Bergmaier

The weather balloon slowly rises away balloon holder Phil Bergmaier from the onlooking crowd as it is released piece by piece into the air during the launch on Wednesday morning on the middle school football field. The LIFT Project (Learning to Integrate Fundamentals through Teaching) is funded by the National Science Foundation. It supports a multidisciplinary team of UW college students that then collaborate with K-12 students and teachers to teach students about STEM through the balloon launches.

The weather balloon rises away from the launch site

The weather balloon rises away from the launch site after being released. As students walk back toward the school, they kept their heads looking straight up until the balloon was out of sight on Wednesday morning. The class has been learning about related topics like weather and GPS tracking in the weeks leading up to the launch and will meet again with the UW students in the next week or so to look at the collected data.

Photojournalist

Jessi Dodge joined the Bulletin as a photojournalist and a Report for America corp member in 2020. If you have ideas or comments, reach out at jessi@buffalobulletin.com.

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