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FHHS Students Launch Weather Balloon

Some Earth Science students and interested friends came out on a Saturday to launch the weather balloon shown here held by FHHS science teachers Ricky Ferguson and Rick Harabin.

On April 5, some Earth Science students at Forest Hills gave up their Saturday morning off to gain some practical experience in studying weather and atmospheric science. Their teacher, Mr. Rick Harabin, and fellow FHHS science teacher, Mr. Ricky Ferguson, helped them launch a weather balloon from near the practice field at Forest Hills.

Mr. Ferguson, a graduate of the meteorology program at UNCC, enjoys giving students the opportunity to learn science through hands-on activities. “Mr. Harabin and I began talking about and planning this activity last semester, so the project has really been a year in the making. Even though I’m not teaching Earth Science this semester, I was able to help out with it because of my meteorology experience.”

The group constructed the weather balloon and outfitted it with a Go-Pro camera, a GPS locator, and instruments to collect atmospheric data. Shamyra Dunlap, Colby Flynn, Emily Mills, and Anforney Little used helium to launch the balloon at 10:20 a.m. “It was pretty cool,” said freshman Colby Flynn. Asked why he came to school on a Saturday to assist with the launch, Flynn added, “I thought it would be exciting to have that feeling of accomplishment as we watched it go up.” He was not disappointed.

The balloon traveled to a maximum height of 15 miles and covered over 150 miles in distance. It came down by parachute and landed near the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department in Clinton, NC, where the two science teachers recovered it at about 3:30 p.m. “The launch exceeded our expectations,” Harabin said, “in that we had to travel past Fayetteville to recover it.”

Mr. Harabin created a video of the weather balloon’s journey from the footage captured by the balloon’s on-board camera. Beautiful aerial shots of the school and surrounding countryside are soon replaced with shots of earth below from far above the clouds. (View the video on the Forest Hills YouTube Channel by clicking here.) 

Written by: Melissa Howell, FHHS Media Coordinator
Posted: Apr 11, 2014 by Melissa Howell

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