Kelowna students head to space and back

A group of Kelowna students had their lessons take them out of the classroom, and into space.

Under the guidance of teacher Bruce Watts, students from Dr. Knox and Bankhead Elementary worked together this fall on a balloon space launch.

"We saw a video on YouTube where a girl had done the same thing, and she won the science fair for the western side of the United States," said Watts.

"So I thought, 'you know, I think we could do this."

And they did.

A $1,000 kit, which was essentially a balloon with a GPS and camera onboard, was launched into space at the end of October.

"(Upon release) the balloon settled itself over downtown Kelowna… and then it started to blow down lake. It gets to 90,000 feet, looking at Penticton and Oliver."

Eventually it  popped and nestled itself into a spot in the Cascade Mountains, near Winthrop, and Watts and another teacher took an expedition 270 km away from home to collect the equipment, so they could view the data.

"The pictures it took of valley are spectacular," said Watts. "It's also neat to watch the balloon pop… and the curvature of the earth."

With all the images collected, students started to put together videos. The Grade 9 class even wrote NASA-esque scripts, which the elementary school partners read.

Then they worked to get the word out.

"All the students had a promotional plan and they have been putting up videos on social media, getting it shared with people who ran blogs, to try and get it placed in the (news)," he said.

The class has had press coverage from one end of this province to the other, and Watts explained that just part and parcel of  a complete education these days.

Getting the message out about their work, he explained, is about finding "an authentic audience."

There are plans in the works for another run, so stay tuned to the students YouTube entries, for the best view of this city.

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