AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Even the sky may not be the limit for the seventh graders at Agawam Junior High.
That’s because their latest project is to build a weather balloon and launch it to the edge of space.
"It’s the first time Agawam Schools is doing this. It’s a big part of STEM," student Mario Daniele tells us.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This curriculum is epitomized by this balloon launch.
"I think the way our kids are learning today is different than the way when we were going to school. I think you have to put the learning in their hands," says Principal Norm Robbins.
"When I come to class here, it’s more hands on, doing more learning, and interesting stuff compared to a normal class, where you’re writing on a piece of paper. Sometimes we are building projects," said student Caleb Davis.
In her fourteenth year of teaching, Mrs. Sandee Johnson, the STEM coordinator for the school, won a grant for funds to pay for the balloon.
"I am out of the box. I like to bring different teaching things to my class where the students haven’t tried before. The more I can get kids interested in things, the happier I am," Johnson tells us.
"Ms. Johnson is the teacher you want your own child to have. Every day she is bringing an energy and zest, an enthusiasm for the learning process," stated Robbins.
The payload for the balloon will not only provide data from all levels of the atmosphere, the seventh graders will be conducting multiple experiments, including...
"We are going to send a marshmallow to see how it is affected by temperature and pressure. We are going to send seeds up, and then plant them to see how they react hydroponically, if they grow," says Johnson.
Two go-pros will capture incredible footage as the balloon floats to 110,000 feet, and a GPS will relay back it’s position.
The culmination is a real-life newscast, reporting on their findings.
"Today, we are going to be learning about what goes up with a weather balloon," stated one student.
"My students have been excited about it. I didn’t really realize how excited they were until I had other teachers come in here and say, 'Oh my gosh, what are you doing down here?'," added Johnson.
The balloon launch is planned for tomorrow morning at Agawam Junior High School, provided the weather cooperates.