Montessori Kids Get to Lift Off Weather Balloon

Part of today’s science field trip included a trip to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Data Collection Center at the Hilo Airport.
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Everyday around 1:00 a large weather balloon is released into the air with instruments attached to it that take pictures back at the earth.

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As it gets closer to lift off time, the technician calls the Airport Control tower to make sure that there are no planes in the area or scheduled to take off or arrive.

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The kids gathered around as the countdown got closer to lift-off.

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A few brave kids volunteered to be the releasers and right on time, the kids released the balloon into the atmosphere.

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Unfortunately, today’s wind took the balloon right into the path of the sun and I was not able to take pictures of it as it lifted into the atmosphere.

Once the balloon reaches the right altitude, it takes pictures of the earth and the data is sent back to an office on the ground.  That data is then sent to the mainland where the data is collected with other balloons that were lofted today.

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Here is a quick youtube clip of one of the technicians explaining what goes on with the data as the balloon is rising.

Of course I had to ask what happens with the balloon and the data box once the balloon pops.  The technician then informed me that there were parachutes attached to the data boxes so that they would land softly where ever they land.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jObfuR804nA&hl=en&fs=1]

I enjoyed the learning experience and this was the first time I had ever seen one of these balloons lofted into the atmosphere.

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