Local High School Students Launch A Weather Balloon - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Local High School Students Launch A Weather Balloon

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You know how much I love weather, so it's really cool when a younger generation is excited about it, and that's why I'm here in Simms where a group of high school students have braved the cold to do their own weather research by launching a weather balloon.

Preparations started early in the freezing pre-dawn hours but that didn't stop our students as they were ready to blow up that balloon, get everything calibrated and even fasten in two of our favorite mascots as passengers.  With the balloon filling up, it was about time for lift off and after a countdown from the crowd, the only direction to go from here is up.  As the balloon started to rise, it was just the beginning as it was time to collect data for a couple of important projects.

"I am helping this U-M Borealis team, when they send up their balloons for their projects, the payload on the balloon tends to drift a lot side to side and, in order to get certain data like vertical wind speeds, they need the payload to be stable, so I'm helping them create a stabilizer for that," said Emma Rott, a senior at Missoula Sentinel High School.

"I'm looking at the temperature lapse rate.  When you're going up, the weather should be getting colder, so I'm seeing if it's increasing steadily," said Danelle Toren, a junior at Simms High School.

Information from the balloon began to stream in and then it was time for the chase.  There's a lot of driving to do because this balloon made it up to 70,000 feet up in the air and then it's got to move side to side.  We chased it all over Central Montana and even ran into a few bovine friends, but the pursuit is half the fun.

"It's really exciting because, usually, my science fair projects are just "stay in the classroom and get it done" and this is fun to come out and chase a radiosonde balloon," said Toren.

We didn't let any roadblocks stop us which is why Emma has a few words of wisdom for any students out there who want to pursue a cool science project like this one.

"I guess I would tell them to not be shy being a high school student to go and talk to people at Universities because they love to help high school students, so go and talk to them," said Rott.

The biggest success today?  A group of promising young students with their eyes on the horizon.

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