A group of students soar into the next phase in their lives by looking to the sky today.
They completed a major undertaking by launching a weather balloon as part of “Project Phoenix”--the final lesson in their journey through high school.
A dream is realized after more than a month and a half in the making.
Alexander Senior, Cassie Chan says, “iI's something new. We've never actually done anything this big before.”
Taking a cue from an experiment performed by M.I.T. students over one year ago, students from Alexander High School's A.P. Physics class try to achieve one simple goal.
Mark Garcia with the school’s Physics Department says, “We're aspiring to take pictures of different layers of the atmosphere.”
Using basic supplies including a balloon, helium, a camera, an ice chest, insulation and duct tape, they integrate their physics knowledge and research in hopes of capturing the images at thirty second intervals.
“Like anything else, it's a scientific process. You don't just launch. They went through the several testing phases, testing the vessel, the balloon, and the drop phase.”
“The ice chest is insulated because the camera will cease to operate after negative fifty degrees Celsius.”
“We also had to take into account air resistance, wind speed and wind direction.”
The upper-level wind speed and direction determines where and how far the balloon would go.
Based on their calculations, they estimated that meant about thirty miles due east on highway 59 and thanks to modern technology, they will soar with Phoenix.
“We have a GPS phone in there, and we track it with a laptop so we know where it is. Unfortunately, we'll lose contact with it once it reaches a certain altitude, but we'll regain contact.”
Once the chest lands, the students are able to find it based on the coordinates, and collect their data for another school project complete.
Ultimately, Garcia says it's not just the physics that teaches here.
“There are things that we can do. If we put enough effort in to it, anything is possible.”
This is a lesson they will carry on as they step into the next chapter in their lives.
Organizers say “Project Phoenix” was a success.
Garcia reported that at around eleven this morning, the ice chest landed about thirty miles east, and six miles south of highway 59 in the brush country.
This afternoon the students recovered the ice chest carrying the camera from a tree on a local ranch.
They were able to confirm that the balloon got to a height of 60,000 feet.