WCCUSD students launch ‘near space’ weather balloons

WCCUSD students launch ‘near space’ weather balloons
Vista K-12 Virtual Academy Mission Validate. (All photos courtesy of the WCCUSD)

By Kathy Chouteau

The West Contra Costa Unified School District’s (WCCUSD) Vista K-12 Virtual Academy and Hercules Middle School communities came together the morning of Tues., March 22 to launch high altitude weather balloons into the stratosphere from Hercules.

Led by Vista Science Facilitator Olaoluwalotobi Thomas, the educational effort was part of “Mission Validate: A Near Space Project,” a science experiment that saw the students launch weather balloons from Hercules Middle School into the stratosphere after studying weather patterns and learning about meteorological studies, per the WCCUSD. Seventh and eighth grade middle school students from Vista K-12 Virtual Academy were on hand for the launch, according to school Education Specialist Kaitlin Marchesi.

“The balloon[s] launched with the objective to retrieve a high altitude balloon carrying meteorological monitor equipment,” according to a post-event statement by Marchesi, who added that the experiment was “inspired by how scientists study El Nino with high altitude balloons.” She estimated that three total balloons were launched, with one making it “all the way to the Grand Canyon,” which was farther than expected.

Click here to find more information about the launch and to track the GPS location.