7th Dec, 2016

Coventry students launch out of this world mission

Shaun Reynolds 3rd Jul, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

STUDENTS at a Coventry school have combined their passion for science and space to launch an out of this world project in an attempt to gather data from space.

Inspired by Tim Peake’s mission, students at Cardinal Newman Catholic School launched their own device at the end of last month.

The school used a High Altitude Balloon (HAB) which carried a GPS tracking device and temperature probe so students could monitor latitude, longitude, altitude and temperature every 20 seconds during the near three hour flight.

Launched just north of Ross-on-Wye on Saturday (June 25), the balloon reached a peak altitude of 22 miles – and was tracked by students using the school minibus.

Data transmitted by the HAB was received by more than 30 stations on the ground including some as far afield as France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Upon landing, students retrieved the payload and cameras which has taken over 3,000 photos between them.

Greg Tomlin, science teacher at Cardinal Newman Catholic School – who spearheaded the project – said: “We decided to carry the experiment out not only for the academic relation but also after hearing news of a similar story on the news.

“I was at home one evening and the story of this object launched into space caught my attention so I thought it’d be a good idea to introduce it to my students.

“It’s gave them a good experience coding and the different types of data you can receive from an object that shoots up into space.”

A group of ten students in years seven, eight and nine – who spent months preparing for the launch – tracked the balloon in the school’s minibus.

Mr Tomlin said the day provided something outside the usual school routine for students, and hopes it can be performed once again in the near future.

He added: “They enjoyed the experienced, we all followed the rocket around and spent the day tracking it.

“It was a long term project we’ve been working on since October and students met each fortnight to plan what was going to happen.

“Obviously our data isn’t going to compete with NASA but what we did find interesting was that temperatures started to increase as the balloon reached the outer stratosphere.

“We do want to do something similar in the future so talks will take place about bringing the project back – it takes away from the usual science lessons and keeps students engaged in real world activities.”