Lodi School District High Altitude Balloon Launch


By Nicholas Filipas
Record Staff Writer
Posted Apr. 1, 2016 at 7:10 PM

STOCKTON — The weather conditions on Friday were just right. Light winds; low humidity and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky. A perfect day to launch a weather balloon 100,000 feet and beyond into the atmosphere.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students from Delta Sierra Middle School watched with anticipation as Ted Tagami and Tony So, co-founders of Magnitude.io, prepared to send the high-altitude weather balloon with CanSat instrumentation into the air.

Watch the video and more: http://www.recordnet.com/news/20160401/middle-school-students-project-soars?rssfeed=true

“Everybody ready?” Tagami asks to the sounds of cheers. “OK, countdown…5…4…3…2…1!

The CanSat satellite, small enough to fit into a can of soda, was set to travel across San Joaquin County for 2 ½ hours. Its projected route was to fly over Stockton and land somewhere between Ripon and Escalon, but in reality, it eventually landed outside of Modesto. A GPS tracking system allowed students of Harold Ross’ seventh-grade science class to track and locate the landing spot in real time.

After careful observation of the wind and weather patterns during the week, Friday’s liftoff just before noon went without a hitch, and the balloon, for the most part, stayed on course.

“We originally were going for Wednesday, but if we had, it would’ve taken us all the way down to Gilroy,” Tagami said of the winds not being favorable. “The recovery would be a little bit on long side and there was a chance it would be in the mountains.”

Principal Brad Watson said Delta Sierra in the Lodi Unified School District is in its second year as a STEM Academy with focuses on robotics, medical technology, forensics and creating of apps for mobile devices.

Tagami and So of Magnitude.io bring STEM related projects to classrooms with the goal of inspiring students and to get them interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The two men have been working with the district and Ross’ class since the start of the school year and have also assisted in rocket launches with the Manteca Unified School District.

After recovery, students are expected to be able to download and transfer data collected on the pre-built CanSat canister, including data on altitude, temperature, speed, velocity and moisture readings.

A tiny camera also made the ride and will be able to provide the view what it looks like to almost touch the outer limits of the atmosphere.

“We are here to bring students right to the edge of discovery,” Tagami said.

Hours before the launch, Tagami said they were approved by the Federal Aviation Administration as a notice was filed to alert any aircraft out of Lodi of the balloon’s voyage.

The launch also benefits another class project: how the upper atmosphere affects its urban garden that grows vegetables approved to be served in the school lunch program.

What happens in the atmosphere, said Watson, can have an effect on growth and quality of life.

“Kids need to know what happens in atmosphere it effects what you eat,” said Watson. “They can see the connection.”

— Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or nfilipas@recordnet.com. Follow him on recordnet.com/filipasblog or on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.

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