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Cazenovia engineering students study stratosphere using weather balloon

Cazenovia High School engineering students pose with their weather balloon and electronics payload that was launched into the atmosphere last week near Rochester. The balloon ascended 105,000 feet, and recorded data and video that students montored from a classroom.

Cazenovia High School engineering students pose with their weather balloon and electronics payload that was launched into the atmosphere last week near Rochester. The balloon ascended 105,000 feet, and recorded data and video that students montored from a classroom.

— Cazenovia High School engineering students last week culminated a months-long project by capturing video and data on the Earth’s stratosphere from a payload of electronic equipment attached to a weather balloon that ascended nearly 20 miles.

The balloon — along with two others created by students at Pittsford-Mendon High School — took off around 6 a.m. last Thursday, May 29, at Pittsford-Mendon High School near Rochester. This was the students’ third attempt at the launch after two weather-related delays.

Nine Cazenovia High School students researched, built and designed the project all on their own, said Chris Hurd, CHS engineering teacher.

“These kids built a cooler full of electronics, attached it to a parachute and a weather balloon and sent it up into the stratosphere to about 105,000 feet,” Hurd said. “They got video of the curvature of the earth, the earth’s atmosphere and the cloud cover.”

Although Hurd set guidelines for the project, the students did the work, said participant Drew Devendorf, a senior.

“We did most of it on our own,” Devendorf said. “Our teacher stood back and let us do it. That’s the point of this course; if we asked him a question, he’d tell us to figure it out.”

Students from both Cazenovia and Pittsford-Mondon helped each other perfect the process and design of the project, said Cazenovia senior Mike Nourse.

“They were working on it as we were working on it. Our teachers bounced ideas from them to us and us to them,” Nourse said.

Retired engineer and project mentor Jim Wigge said the students were split up into three different groups: Megan Stanford and Liz Pittman were in charge of the launch team; Nourse, Devendorf, Carter Biviano and Cody Wilkinson were the mission controllers; Zach Adler, Nick Kurucz and Hunter Burnett chased the equipment down once it landed.

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