In this EPEC Inspiring Outreach Story, Hannah Sargeant from the Open University in the UK tells us how she launched a stratospheric balloon with the help of school children in an attempt to spark their love for the space exploration.
Since winning the I’m a Scientist competition I did a lot of research into space balloons and how to launch them. I came across European Astrotech, who deliver high altitude balloon programs for schools, and they were excited to get involved in a joint project. With added financial support from the LUVMI rover team we were able to work with a local school in Milton Keynes (UK) to deliver a couple of space themed sessions cumulating in a launch of a space balloon.
After bad weather hampered the first launch, I spent a morning with year 5 looking at the scale of the Universe and wrapping our heads around just how far apart everything is. Once the weather cleared up we rescheduled the launch and an expert from European Astrotech delivered a talk to year 5 & 6 students on how science in space has affected our everyday lives. Then, we all launched our own science project into the edge of space with our space balloon equipped with a high-resolution camera.
Included on the balloon were also two drawings from the winners of a space design competition. As the Astrotech team chased the balloon the students could track with me its progress along with the chase car. High definition videos from the launch have been later recovered and shared for everyone to enjoy the launch all over again.
I’ve always had a passion for outreach but the I’m a Scientist experience inspired me to challenge myself and try to organise something involving various experts to provide the most exciting experience for the students. This allowed me to spend a great time with inquisitive children curious about the Universe and the ways in which we are exploring it, but also to learn how to organise a large outreach project lasting for couple of days and including many participants from several fields. I hope that I will have a chance of working again on future space balloon projects and collaborating with more experts to give further students a passion for space science and technology.
Originally posted as an I’m a Scientist Winner report.
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