Corvallis students build, launch balloons

Corvallis Middle School seventh grade students spent three days of designing, cutting and gluing to create a hot-air balloon from tissue paper.

 

On Thursday morning, they tested the air-worthiness of their creations with a launch at the school’s football field and track.

 

Educator Stacy Jessop said the annual event is a 20-year tradition.

“We used to do an entire unit on aviation,” Jessop said. “Now there are so many other things to teach we just have a few days for this. We talk about structure, panels, design and the history of flight. We view the hot-air balloon show that happens each year in Albuquerque, New Mexico.”

 

Each balloon has a sign that says “If found return to Corvallis Middle School.”

“We have had a few fly away and we want to track how high and how far they go,” Jessop said. “We have had them go as far as Woodside, a mile or two.”

 

The 137 students were launching, chasing and repairing their balloons in groups of two and three. With the heat at 65 degrees and no breeze, most of the balloons did not fly farther than the field. The few that went further stuck in trees of homes in East Corvallis.

Teacher Dave Bradshaw said students were creative.

 

“Students make their own design,” Bradshaw said. “They glue the panels together and use a template to cut it out then they glue the pieces together. The balloons are very delicate. If there is any little hole the kids will find out when they put the hot air in there.”

Corvallis Middle School science teacher Chris Maul-Smith said he looks forward to the balloon project.

 

“It is a great way to celebrate the end of the year for students and for the teachers as well,” he said. “It is a way to bring everyone together and have fun constructing a balloon.”

Maul-Smith said the balloons rise up to 200 feet and travel usually 200 to 300 yards, depending on the weather. The colder the day the higher the balloons fly.

“We fill each balloon with hot air from a stove pipe that is attached to a heater donated from Mom’s Rentals in Hamilton,” he said. “They do this every year and make this possible. We hold the opening of each balloon over the stovepipe until it is super-filled and super-warm and then let it go. If there is enough temperature difference, they fly really well. Today is a much better temperature than yesterday.”

 

Maul-Smith and Dave Chimo filled the balloons and released them into the air.

The balloon team of Amanda Boelman and Madelyn Shepherd said it was a fun project.

“We learned about hot-air balloons and it was great,” Boelman said.

 

Stephanie Weber and Alexa Sunderland said creating and launching their balloon was cool.

“I was hoping it would go higher,” Weber said. “We’ve got the streamers on ours to make it extra fancy.”

 

Sunderland said, “It went farther than I thought but it would have been cool to go further and out of the field.”  Ramsey Snider and Carter Humphrey repaired their balloon’s several holes after their first launch.  This is Jennifer Powell’s first year to teach seventh grade. She was delighted to be included in this project that she has heard about for years.

  “Both my own children participated in this fun science project,” she said. “It is just the perfect day and the perfect ending to a great year of school.”

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