Lower School Walking to Class

BFS students perform an out of this world science experiment!

Students, teachers, and families gathered on a crystal clear day at the end of the school year to watch as the 8th Grader's high-altitude weather balloon soared into the skies.  This is the second year the students have performed this experiment, which gathers data on atmospheric pressure, temperature, velocity, altitude, imagery, and radiation levels.


After receiving the “all clear'' from the FAA, the students successfully launched the weather balloon and payload, which was decorated by students and included notes to go to space, as the community waved it along its journey.  The experiment left the ozone layer and entered the stratosphere with a top altitude of 101,629 feet before the balloon burst and coasted back towards Earth. BFS parents Gary Brackenridge and Leo Macdonald were then on the hunt to geo-locate the payload, which landed 30 feet up in the branches of a tree in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Using a dead tree branch as a levy, the payload was safely retrieved. “It’s incredibly rare to retrieve a payload from these experiments. Often the payloads are damaged or can’t be found, so to retrieve them two years in a row is truly exciting!” said Brackenridge, who has run many high-altitude launches and was instrumental in helping run the BFS experiments.


With the payload safely back at BFS, the students began analyzing and comparing the data to last year’s results, something they will continue to do when they return in the fall. Says science teacher Stephanie Thliveris, “To have a successful launch and recovery for two years in a row is extraordinary! Now we get to unpack all of this data and imagery, and compare the readings from year to year with the students. We look forward to this becoming an annual event with the students so we can chart the trends in data over time.” Many thanks to Gary Brackenridge and Stephanie Thliveris for making this out of this world science project for the students such a huge success!

High-Altitude Weather Balloon Launch 2022
Balloon LaunchView of the launch site from the balloon Balloon launchInto space!
Balloon BurstWeather balloon bursting BFS parachuteParachute deploying
Payload LandedThe payload 30 ft up in the Pine Barrens GPS RouteGPS Route