I love that a fun activity at the Balloon Fiesta is teaching kids S.T.E.M.
Today was a special day at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. I had the opportunity to watch my son and classmates participate in The Near Space Challenge. The 2016 Near Space Challenge may be a new event to the Balloon Fiesta but to my son, it is one he has been doing for many years with his JROTC program at West Mesa high school with his instructors Major Mark Hendricks and Senior Chief Kirk Nicholson. During this event, the students will compete in three competitions: The Scientific Engineering Challenge, The High Altitude Challenge, and the Landing Accuracy Challenge. These events teach the students many different aspects of S.T.E.M. with a whole lot of fun. The students were able to compete for awards as well as high altitude and landing accuracy records. This event took place over the course of three days and I was able to view The High Altitude Challenge today.
The above photo shows my son working on his mini sat before the balloon release. My son takes pride in his work and wants every element of the high altitude balloon launch to work so his team's balloons would fly well. This launch takes the work of many students as you can see that it takes many people to just hold the balloon in place as it launches.
During this event, many students were in the makeshift mission control room viewing the balloons being tracked live on three monitors. These monitors are able to track the positions of the balloons while they are in the sky and after they land. This event is one of many ways my son is learning S.T.E.M. in is JROTC class and has helped my son choose his career path.
Watch the video of the students launching one of the balloons, it is very cool!