Mom Knows Best : The Near Space Challenge At Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Teaches Kids S.T.E.M.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Near Space Challenge At Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Teaches Kids S.T.E.M.

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 ChallengeThe 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 High Altitude Challenge is an event in which the student's launch tracking beacons attached to balloons filled with helium. The learning started with building the mini sat, my son built this from scratch. This item houses the tracking beacon which allows the students to track the balloons. The students then fill up this big balloon with the right amount of helium and then attach it to the mini sat and a parachute. A countdown starts and the balloon is released into the air. It is amazing how fast they go into the sky. The high altitude balloons typically travel 90,000 feet into the sky and depending on the wind they can travel anywhere from 1 mile to 226 miles. The tracking device helps Major Hendricks and Senior Chief Nicholson locate the payloads later.  My son has gone on many trips with Major and Senior Chief, which may involve searching fields far away, to find the balloons.

  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!


24 comments:

  1. Wow, that looks like fun! I remember seeing one of these years ago and people thought it was a UFO, but it was a school doing an experiment! :)

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  2. It looks like a really fun event! I wish I could go there someday.

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  3. This is too cool! My kids would enjoy it.

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  4. Oh, this is amazing! I love finding S.T.E.M. based events for my teens. We homeschool, so whenever I find a S.T.E.M. themed event, I love to attend. The Near Space Challenge looks like a very enriching learning experience!

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  5. Okay this is too cool. I want to build one of these.

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  6. This is so cool for the kids to experience.

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  7. That was amazing! I've never been in this event like this, and it looks fun!

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  8. This is such a great idea. STEM skills are so important.

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  9. It's important to encourage kids to learn more about STEM. This is an awesome event and it's good that there are lots of kids participating!

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  10. This is so cool! We have a STEM Academy here that I'm going to apply for my children to attend :)

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  11. What an amazing event, I haven't try to go in this kind of event.

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  12. That looks like so much fun. So nice to encourage kids to learn.

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  13. This looks like a fun and educational activity or challenge for children. It sounds like a right hoot x

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  14. This event seems so fun and educational! i would love to go to one

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  15. What a great experience! I love when my kids can get hands on science lessons.

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  16. What a wonderful activity for your son to take part in. This is def a memory making time he will talk about for years to come.

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  17. Oh my gosh, my kids and I love these types of things. Science is their favorite subject.

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  18. What? I hadn't heard of this before. This is seriously the coolest thing!

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  19. What a lovely experiment! I would've loved to try something like this in our town.

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  20. If kids could experience science like this, more would be interested in learning more. This is really a cool way to learn.

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  21. Kids love hands on activities. We do similar things with the kids at school.

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  22. This program intrigues me more and more. I wish my children were able to do STEM!

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  23. What a cool idea for kids. I would love for my son to do some more hands on things like this.

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  24. Looks like a super fun event! Will consider this event on our next family trip. Thanks for sharing!

    Mhaan | www.mommyrockininstyle.com

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