Mapleton Jr 7th Grade Students Launch Paper Balloons

Submitted by jeffrey.nelson on Wed, 03/06/2013 - 10:21
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MAPLETON -- Brian Frankowski's seventh-grade enriched science class at Mapleton Junior High took flight Tuesday morning without their feet leaving the ground. The class used a propane burner to fill tissue-paper hot air balloons they have been building for weeks and let them loose in the sky above the school and surrounding homes.

"We've learned about density and how convection currents form, and we're taking advantage of density differences between the hot air and the cold air," Frankowski said.

The hot air in the balloons sent them rocketing skyward in the cold morning air but a stiff wind sent them flying far from the school, leading students on a wild chase to recover their creations. The balloons ranged from small, round, traditional balloon shapes to large abstract creations, including a flying fish and a horse's head.

"We wanted to do something special," said Trevor Jeppson who, with partner Blake DeMartini, designed the fish-shaped balloon. "We had to design our own gore, which is the template for the balloon, and then we had to glue it all together. I even had to climb inside the fish and do some gluing inside it."

One large balloon even carried a small video camera that recorded its flight. Once back in the classroom, the class watched the film. The video showed the ground quickly falling away from the balloon, trees and fields drifting by, even the sounds of a dog barking and a rooster crowing, before it crashed in somebody's yard.

For Frankowski, the project was as much to teach about density and the dynamics of balloons as it was to get the students excited in a way that explaining how a balloon works could not.

"You know, a lot of kids are bored about science," he said. "It shouldn't be boring. That's the one subject they should be excited about."

Story was in the Daily Herald

Written by Spencer Heaps

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Spencer Heaps