Skies the limit

A 1,200-gram high-altitude balloon hauling experimental seeds, radiation monitoring equipment and cameras soared nearly 19 miles above the Earth’s surface before returning to the ground thanks to several Wright State University engineering students.

The Wright State students, members of the Wright State chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, helped the seventh- and eighth-grade STEM class at Valley View Junior High School in Farmersville perform the experiment on May 25.

“I was really lucky in the fall when I reached out to Wright State and asked for anybody that might be interested in helping me with this launch,” said Jill Weaver, a 2008 Wright State alumna and STEM teacher at Valley View Junior High. “I’ve done some summer research experiences for teachers at Wright State so I knew where to ask for help.”

The Wright State team included Hunter Gilliland, a mechanical engineering major from New Carlisle who serves as the chapter’s president; Shane Sellman, a mechanical engineering major from Camden; Jacob Roberts, a biochemistry and molecular biology major; and Caleb Wasserbeck, a materials science and engineering major from Prospect.

The Wright State students began meeting remotely with Weaver in September, planning the launch, gathering materials and making prediction models. Weaver shared their progress with her students as they conducted their seed experiments, studied the layers of the atmosphere and conducted research.

This was the group’s third successful launch over this past school year. Previous launches have collected temperature, pressure and altitude data.

“The sky is the limit,” said Weaver. “Research says that some of my students that are sitting in my room are going to be on the Moon or Mars so it’s a good experience for them to get started.”

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