By Elyana Schosek, Student Reporter
Young scientists at Springville Middle School have been spending the past couple of months getting creative in and out of the classroom prepping for a series of experiments.
During the monthly meeting of the Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education last week, a group of students from the middle school presented on their recent science project.
These students, Jackson Crone, Gracie Gilcrist and Braden Steiner, are currently in the advance eighth-grade science class taught by Mrs. Hughey.
They discussed a unique and interesting project that began in their class but quickly spread to the seventh grade advanced science class and later to the sixth graders: a stratosphere balloon.
In the project, the students created a capsule full of multiple experiments that the students came up with. The capsule will be attached to a balloon filled with helium and donated by the Springville Kiwanis Club.
According to Jackson, they will “take it out to the soccer fields in the back, attach it and launch it.”
Gracie added that they were originally going to launch in the latter part of the fall season, but due to weather complications, they now hope to launch in the late spring.
With the experiments that will be sent up, the students hope to test the effects of differences in air pressure and temperature mainly, but not exclusively.
The first experiment includes clocks. Students will be syncing a clock on the ground with one to be sent up. This way they will be able to tell if the time freezes or is altered due to changes in gravity.
The second is “mold in the cold,” which will test the effects of temperature and air pressure changes on mold growth. They will also be sending up a piece of camera film to see if there are any radiation streaks due to cosmic radiation.
Next is an experiment called “yeast feast.” The students will send up one packet of yeast and keep one on the ground as a control. If there are no noticeable changes, then they will bake bread with the yeast and check for any difference in the way it rises or tastes.
In addition to these experiments, they will also send up a few kernels of popcorn to test if the air pressure in the stratosphere will cause the popcorn to pop.
A final experiment came from the sixth graders when Crone, Gilcrist and Steiner presented to them.
This experiment involves a peep, the flavored marshmallow candy. The sixth graders wanted to see if it will explode due to air pressure. At first, they had doubts of how they would actually be able to attach it. Their final product was created by Mr. Baykal, a technology teacher at the school, on a 3D printer. The design was essentially a small chair with a “spear” in it.
In order to track the whereabouts of the balloon, the students will have a GPS tracking system in the capsule. There will be a set group of students monitoring from a classroom in the middle school as well as a group of staff members acting as a “recovery team.”
“We are planning on sending it on a day when it’s not too windy so it won’t go more than two hours away,” noted Gilcrist.
“After a certain height, the balloon justs pops essentially,” Steiner added.
When the recovery team goes out to retrieve the capsule, the students will be on a zoom call with them to keep track of how things are going.
This project had been done before about 10 years ago. They had sent up two balloons but lost communication with one. The other ended up getting caught in a tree on private land so they had to go through the proper procedure to retrieve that capsule.
A question was asked that pertained to air space clearance.
Mrs. Hughey mentioned that they did have a student on the phone for a while talking to all air space organizations in the area. They were made aware that as long as the capsule was under six pounds then they did not need clearance from the FFA to launch it.
Seeing as the capsule is made of styrofoam and the majority of the experiments are pretty light, it was not really an issue.
The students involved in this exciting project are eager to see the results of their experiment when they are finally able to launch their balloon and capsule.