Students launch high altitude balloon in North Anson in school-wide STEAM project

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Students help prepare a high altitude balloon for launch. (Brian Twitchell photo)

NORTH ANSON – Last week, students in RSU 74 launched a high altitude balloon as part of a school-wide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) project with the K-8 art teacher, Richard Reichenbach.

The balloon was launched from the Carrabec Community School in North Anson and came down in Industry, where it was recovered.

This project was in collaboration with the University of Maine High Altitude Ballooning program, which offers K-12 classes in Maine the opportunity to conduct their own experiments at the edge of space. Teachers provide the equipment, and UMaine will help with the launch, sending a balloon up to 118,000 feet or more. This program is at no cost to the schools and student participation is welcomed.

RSU 74 launched a balloon on Wednesday, May 31, with two cameras and experiments: bubble wrap and seeds. Upon recovery of the balloon and experiments, students found that the bubble wrap was unaffected by the trip to the edge of space. The seeds have been planted to observe how the trip impacted germination and other factors. In addition to these experiments, an astronaut figure was designed and printed by 7th grade students and launched with the balloon.

When the high altitude balloon reached the maximum height it could travel, the balloon popped and a parachute was deployed to aid in the return to earth.

Videos of the launch and the trip through the atmosphere are available on the RSU 74 Facebook page. For more information about the project, visit UMaine.edu


An astronaut figure, designed and 3-D printed by 7th grader students, accompanies the experiments. (Image from RSU 74 video footage.)


The payload for the balloon must meet certain requirements, including secure packaging so no articles are released in flight. (Brian Twitchell photo)


“We have liftoff!” (Brian Twitchell photo)
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