Weston students launch balloons

ARLINGTON — Jamee Eager wasn’t sure what to expect when she let her hot air balloon fly into the biting morning air.

To her surprise, what resulted was a record-setting flight — her balloon sailed more than 30 feet into the air and landed nearby in Weston High School’s parking lot.

At the time, it was the highest sailing balloon in her class.

“That’s what’s up,” Eager said, smiling.

Eager was one of about 12 Weston students in Dewaine Craig’s physical science class who released homemade hot air balloons into the air on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Testing the balloons was one of the final steps involved in the class project, in which the students used tissue paper, tape and glue to construct the balloons.

“I was in the class last year, so I knew it would work,” senior Brittany Chapman said. “When I first did this I thought that air would go right through the tissue paper.”

Students in the class first measured and traced out a pre-designed pattern on pieces of paper. They then used the tracings to cut the pieces of tissue paper in such a way that they could be glued together, Chapman said.

The students used either Elmer’s Glue or a hot glue gun to fasten the 24 pieces of tissue paper together. The entire project took about three weeks to complete.

Craig said that the students were asked to keep daily logs while they built their balloons to keep track of their accomplishments.

After they completed the construction portion of the project, the high school students tested them at the east end of the school’s parking lot.

Craig used a propane- powered blower, which forced heat upward into the air. Taking turns, students would hand their balloons to Craig who held them over the blower and released them.

The balloons’ distance and height were estimated by Craig and other students, who used fishing poles and line to keep the balloons from sailing too far away.

“I didn’t think it was going to work,” Weston student Alyssa Hovde said. “I came here right in the middle of the project and I didn’t really understand it at first, but it does work.”

Eager said she expected her balloon to not work.

“I thought mine was really bad,” she said. “We get graded if it actually works. Hopefully I get a good grade.”

Chapman said that there were a few changes between last year’s project and this year. Students used masking tape instead of duct tape to help seal up the balloons.

Chapman said the masking tape made a difference because it was lighter and allowed the balloons to travel farther.

The colder weather also made a difference this year, she said. During the first two years of Craig’s project, the students would launch their balloons during the spring.

“As the sun comes out, the air warms, making them go farther,” Craig said.

After taking part in two years of hot air balloon projects, Chapman said she’s really enjoyed the process.

“It’s a lot easier than reading in a book,” Chapman said. “A lot of these people are hands-on learners.”

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