5th Graders Help With Weather Balloon Launch

5th Graders Help With Weather Balloon Launch

Physics Class Lets Youngsters Take Park in Science

SOCORRO, N.M. – New Mexico Tech physics professors and students hosted a special balloon launch Thursday for a class of fifth-graders from Zimmerly Elementary School in Socorro.

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Physics professor Dr. Ken Minschwaner (in yellow) inflates a weather baloon as Zimmerly Elementary fifth-graders keep the balloon steady.


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Minschwaner and fifth-graders watch the weather balloon drift into the sky.


Dr. Ken Minschwaner led the effort involving the launch of an instrument to measure temperature, pressure and humidity. The launch was timed to coincide with a NASA satellite passing over Socorro. As part of his upper-level course in remote sensing, Minschwaner used the experiment to demonstrate hands-on science to local students.

“We want students to get energized about science,” Minschwaner said. “Weather and climate global change are important. This is a good opportunity to get them interested in what we do. Some day, they’ll go to college and we want to them to stay interested in science and engineering.”

About 20 youngsters gathered around Minschwaner as he explained the instrument, the balloon and the experiment. Tech students helped the children take temperature readings. Then, five youngsters donned plastic gloves to keep the balloon steady as Minschwaner inflated the weather balloon. The students counted down to the launch, and watched eagerly as the balloon drifted upward.

Teacher Aileen Adamson of Zimmerly Elementary said, “The point of this is that they get to see people doing real science.  All the scientists I know love what they do. Our children get to see what they do and how much fun it is.”

Dr. Zeljka Fuchs of the Physics Department said the demonstration gives young students a first-hand view of real science.

“We can show kids that it’s cool to be a scientist,” Fuchs said. “It’s cool to play with these toys. And they can do this too some day.”

– NMT –