The Metro High School STEAM Academy concluded the school year by launching a weather balloon. The weather balloon team of students had spent this semester working to collect photographic and weather data from near space. After a successful test launch earlier in the spring, they launched a balloon May 31 that was equipped with the technology and instruments needed to collect video data from three different angles (down for aerial shots, up to capture the balloon bursting, and out to capture the view of earths curve and the thin atmosphere), as well as two promotional shots - one for the STEAM Academy and one for community partner Eco lips.
Participating students worked with engineers from Rockwell Collins to construct and program the weather data station for the payload that uses an Arduino microcontroller board. The station, outfitted with numerous sensors and a micro SD writer to log the data, was expected to collect atmospheric and weather data throughout the trip.
The balloon was launched at 10 a.m. from the rooftop of the Cedar Rapids Public Library. The team recovered it intact at approximately 1 p.m. from a soybean field northwest of Monticello. It had traveled some 46 miles from the launch point.
“The Weather Balloon Team would like to thank the Cedar Rapids Public Library for supporting this project and the launch location,” noted Chuck Tonelli, Metro STEAM Academy teacher. “We would also like to thank Rockwell Collins for providing the mentor support needed to get this project off the ground, the mentors who have worked on this project, and the many donors who helped us secure our camera technology for this project.”
The Metro STEAM Academy was introduced last fall as a project-based learning opportunity for students attending the District’s alternative high school.