Hot air lifts scientific knowledge

Cody Arnold and Zac Odom reach for their hot air balloon as it descends from the sky Monday afternoon. The boys designed the balloon for their aerospace class at Fruita Monument High School.

The balloons were fragile and so were some of the feelings of the aerospace students at Fruita Monument High School as they watched their week-long projects lift into the cloudy sky Monday morning.

Groups of students designed seven hot air balloons from colorful tissue paper which they filled with hot air and launched from the school’s lawn. Construction was a delicate procedure that took into account exact measurements and was unfriendly to some clumsy teenaged fingers.

“It’s been pretty sweet but building it was a challenge,” said Kaden Marx, a sophomore, “It’s taught a lot of patience and teamwork.”

Marx and his team had one of the highest flying balloons. Others weren’t so lucky.

“Ours had a lot of holes in it,” said Austin O’Donnell, a junior, who constructed a balloon with his friends, Team Alpha.

Zac Odom, Cody Arnold, and Ian Johnston, who called themselves the Failed Express, were moderately successful. They taped a digital video camera inside the basket of their design in order to get a balloon-eyed view of the high school’s campus. They quickly learned that their balloon lifted a lot higher without the added weight of the camera. “I can’t wait to put it on YouTube,” Odom said.

A cold, cloudy day without much wind, such as Monday, was the perfect weather to launch balloons in, said Jim MacIntosh, technology teacher at the high school. Having the air inside the balloon much hotter than the outside temperature provided higher and longer flights, he said.

Building balloons is an annual project of the class. “It teaches them the fundamentals of loft and forces. The things they learn here lead up to robot design,” MacIntosh explained.

“It’s been fun, it was a great way to learn,” Marx said.



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