Fort Kent Elementary second, third, and fourth graders sit and observe a video from space. It is part of a science experiment that they started in October led by their teacher Kelley Marquis.
JP Aerospace offers a special program called PongSat. Through this program custom ping pong balls decorated by students are lifted off from the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada carried by high altitude balloon research vehicles. On these vehicles are 10 HD video cameras that record the trip.
“They went up with huge helium balloons that are released at the same time, they must have a lot at once. There were over 1,400 kids that participated from all over the country,” said Ms. Marquis.
Each kid in Ms. Marquis’ class was given a ping pong ball to cut open and fill it with an item of their choosing. As they filled the balls, they wrote down what they thought would happen to the item. On Wednesday they finally got the chance to open them.
“Well now they are going to be going through and checking their hypothesis. They’re going to make all of their observations and see if their hypothesis was correct or not and if not, they’re going to go back and make some changes,” added Ms. Marquis.
Ms. Marquis tells us that the students based their hypothesis on their prior lessons about the outer atmosphere and all of the materials that the balls were exposed to during their 2 hour trip. After these ping pong balls journey back from space, students opened them on Wednesday and explained how the item inside had changed.
“I put a sugar cube and a balloon. The sugar cube just like melted and one of them just got like hard.”
“It kind of felt a little bit heavier.”
“I put foam and it didn’t really do anything, but it could have shrunk or got large.”
“I think it got heavier.”
Ms. Marquis said that this science project was a success, and it’s a great way to get kids excited about science and engineering at an early age.