By Sue Moore
A weather balloon designed and constructed by Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center (KAMSC) students, took off from a corn field east of Vicksburg and landed several hours later in a corn field near Waynesfield, Ohio, close to Lima. Two area students, Autumn Locey, Vicksburg,, and Owen Langejans, Schoolcraft, were a big part of the design team as KAMSC students.
Their instructor, Mike Sinclair, had given six students from his class a research project that turned into a real-life flight plan. “They learned how to work as a team, did all the research to make the balloon launch successful. They learned how to construct the payload package, build a radar reflector, figure out how to track the balloon throughout the mission, and analyze the results – ground track, flight time and speed, altitude throughout the flight, maximum altitude and imaging procedures.
“Our part as a team was to prove that the concept would work,” said Locey. “We wanted to see the curvature of the earth. To do that the balloon had to get up above 70,000 feet. We had two trackers on the balloon so we drove all the way to Ohio to find and retrieve the balloon. It landed in a corn field so we knocked on the farmer’s door to see if he would let us go on his property. Fortunately, he was very agreeable.”