Blood, Cockroaches, Balloons - Oh My!
The expression, "It's raining cats and dogs," should pale in comparison to blood and cockroaches falling from the sky, but these are some of the items that a group of science students using in an experiment.
Dilworth STEM Academy students, located in Reno, Nevada, launched 10 weather balloons on Thursday morning, each carrying roughly 12 pounds of science experiments including solar dust collectors, blood and cockroaches. Although these items sound more like ingredients that should belong in a witch's pot, the students launched these particular items into the sky in order to test the effects of low-pressure, high radiation and extreme cold on the experimental payloads.
Students filled the weather balloons from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and began attaching the payloads at 10 a.m. At approximately 10:30 a.m., they released the balloons These weather balloons have been designed to fly as high as 120,000 feet above the earth into near-space. They will eventually over-expand and burst, causing the parachutes inside the payloads to deploy and to safely deliver the experimental payloads somewhere east of Reno as they return to earth. The payloads have also been outfitted with a GPS tracking devices, which will help the students locate and recover the items once they land.
University of Nevada, Reno engineering faculty Eric Wang and Jeff LaCombe, education faculty David Crowther, and their students were on hand to direct the launch of the five-foot diameter hydrogen-filled balloons from Dilworth. The university team will retrieve the balloons from as far as 100 miles from Reno, depending on wind conditions. Once the balloons are located with the GPS trackers and recovered, the team will work with the Dilworth teaching team to help their students interpret the data they obtained from their experiment.
Wang, LaCombe and Crowther set up the program using a Nevada Space Grant sponsored project for outreach to middle school teachers and students. The university team works with Nevada teachers to bring hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the K-12 classrooms.
The only question is, should residents of east Reno plan to bring an umbrella with them today? Perhaps it would be safer, and cleaner, to stay indoors.
Source: Fox 11 Reno