Indiana Area Senior High School

By EMMA NORMAN – Friday May 10, the IHS STEM program launched its very first weather balloon. The STEM program is happy to announce their overwhelming success with the project. They are excited to continue their research and continuing to collect data.

Mr. Stants worked extensively with the STEM students to make the project a success and is excited to share some of the results. He remarked, “The weather balloon is equipped with a Raspberry Pi that will collect various atmospheric data at specific time intervals.  Additional, this being the first launch we were looking to practice the experiment to learn what variables we can and should change for future launches to provide more data.” “The true results are a staggering data set but here are some of the highlights.  The balloon to 1.9 hours to ascend to 95,521 feet above sea level. Then returned to the Earth’s surface in a travel time of .6 hours.  During this “flight” the balloon drifted 160 miles north east of Indiana. These results were somewhat expected, but it is very helpful to have one complete launch under our belt to learn from.”

This project was beneficial to the STEM students and their education. Senior Ella Spadafora was thrilled with the experience. She commented, “This was one of my best experiences on a high school project. I got to be involved with all phases of production and I was lucky enough to be able to chase the balloon down. This benefited my education by bringing different ideas together in a real world way that is unique. It wasn’t something that you learn from a textbook or that you can copy from the internet, it was problem solving, troubleshooting, teamwork, and coordination. As well as they’re also being a lot at stake because of the prices of the items, there was a lot of pressure to perform well.”

The STEM program hopes to continue on with this project in future years and looks forward to comparing data. Mr. Stants stated, “I would love to do a couple of launches next year.  I am looking for a few students or group of students who may have some specific data or test that they would like to conduct during flight. However, before we do another launch there are a handful of areas that our research and development team have insisted that we make improvements upon.  One example being, a release device between the parachute and the cargo in case the parachute gets stuck in a tree during the descent.”

This project will be an exciting and rewarding memory for many of the STEM students. Spadafora exclaimed, “My absolute favorite part of the entire project was hiking over the ridge looking down and spotting the neon orange parachute attached to our cooler then sprinting through the field to get it and bring it back to the school. We were so excited to be able to share what we found with all of our classmates.”

The teachers and staff could not be happier with the students involved and the results. Stants commented, “This was really a true STEM experience and a special thank you must go out to Mr. Rend, Mr. Schreyer, Mr. Lehman and the aviation club for their efforts in making this launch a success.”

Congratulations to everyone involved in the project and best of the luck with its continuation.  


[Photo courtesy of Mr. Mike Lehman]

Photo Caption: “Seniors Ella Spadafora and Joe Spohn traveled with Mr. Lehman to track down the weather balloon.”


Emma Norman

Emma is a junior and a second year reporter for the High Arrow. She believes it is important to provide the school with trustworthy news because journalism’s impact is greater than pieces of newsprint.