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Diné College Students Launch Weather Balloon Experiments

News & Events

April 15, 2014

Tsaile, AZ – On April 3, 2014, Diné College’s Science Department coordinated with members of the Arizona Near Space Research (ANSR) team to assist students with the launching of a weather balloon and payloads. The balloon reached an altitude of 82,000 feet before exploding at stratospheric heights. The attached payloads landed 50 miles east of Tsaile near Lake Valley, NM. The project helped students learn about temperature, wind velocity, pressure, density and structure of the atmosphere.

“Our College is committed to supporting programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education,” said Diné College President Maggie George. “Through activities such as the balloon launch our students are exposed to cutting-edge technology that has the potential to broadened their educational perspectives.”

Sponsored by the University of Arizona and NASA, the high-altitude balloon research was coordinated by Barbara Klein, Science and Physical Education Department Chair. A group from ANSR provided the balloon and conducted the balloon launch before an audience at the Ruth and Bob Roessel Archive center. Jack Crabtree, the President of the organization, and his team demonstrated how to properly launch the payloads and to locate it while it soared to its destination.

In addition to research associated with the project, some of the Diné College students joined the expedition to locate the balloon payloads. These students were able to explore the terrains of the Bisti Badlands near Lake Valley, NM where the balloon was predicted to land. The group was able to conduct online tracking of the balloon's longitude and latitude owing to the GPS located in the balloon's payload. A team from the ANSR and students traveled ahead to the location and awaited the arrival of the balloon and its payloads.

“The students enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to participate in this project,” said Barabra Klein. “It was an exciting project and we are looking to bring more of these types of interactive activities for our students.”

According to their website, the Arizona Near Space Research (ANSR), a 501(c)(3) organization, promotes science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM) through Amateur Radio and High-Altitude Balloons (ARHAB). ANSR has conducted more than 70 high-altitude balloon flights, mostly used to carry student payload projects.