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T-minus less than a week

With less than a week to our launch of Countryside’s first HAB (High Altitude Balloon) and everything ready to go there is only one thing to do, run predictions for the flight of our balloon.  Some may ask why we might do this but the answer is quite simple, weather forecasts which include forecasted wind strength and direction change daily if not more frequently and in Southern Ontario where there are many unfavourable landing sites knowing where our payload would land is key to the success of our project.

Predictions in the days leading up to our launch, shown below were prediction landfall to be a little wet which given that our payload consisted mostly of electronics was NOT in our favour.

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With 24 hours notice needed to cancel our buses, Thursday the 21st at around 9am would be the last time we would run a prediction for our launch.  This prediction would dictate whether we would launch on our first planned date.

Unfortunately, this was what we saw with that prediction.

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Calls were made, buses were cancelled, those in Egbert were notified of our postponed launch and a new date was set.  Launch day #2 was set, Thursday the 28th of 2015 would be our new 1st attempt at launching a high altitude weather balloon.

Predictions for the 28th…looking good!

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The 1st #csvpsHAB launch is set…

That’s right months of work has come down to these final days as we prepare for the launch of the 1st #csvpsHAB (Countryside Village Public School High Altitude Balloon).  With approximately 7 days until our first set launch day (Friday the 22nd of May) there are a few things yet to do like confirm the bus and pack the supplies.  This seems to be a simple enough task to complete over the next 7 days but I am sure like everything with a deadline, the hours and days will pass and the launch will be upon us.  The only thing that could change that is an unfavourable landing location (lake, major city centre, or somewhere potentially inaccessible like Darlington Nuclear or the middle of Algonquin Park).

Current predictions see us landing just southeast of Peterborough, ON and Rice Lake and approximately 10Km north of Coburg.  All considering the obstacles that south central Ontario poses this seems to be a favourable landing site for our payload.  At this point nothing will need to be rescheduled.

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Site Identified and Requests for Permission to Launch Initiated

The site @ (44 13’ 55”N 79 46’ 50” W) just to the west of Egbert, ON.


A few emails written to York University and the department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering put us in contact with Regina Lee, Arthur Lin and Robert McLaren.  Follow up emails went out to Robert and Andrew Sheppard, Stewart Cober and Liisa Jantunen of Environment Canada at the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments and within a few hours of emails bouncing around we had approval to launch from Egbert and helium to fill our balloon.


And we are back…

More from our inquiry about space…

Students arrived back today after a week off on March Break.  Over the break, aside from recouping from a long winter stretch through January and February, the Grade 6 students from Ms. Harper’s class were tasked with two responsibilities;

1. to blog about what they have learned and focus their inquiry time on, and,

2. to come up with a few questions they would want to ask our guest #DIYspace “expert” about launching a weather balloon.

We are back and the blog entries have been made by “The Crew” which for many was their first.  For the audience out there that might read some of the entries, please share your advice about writing blogs to the students as they will have several more entries about their work leading up to the launch.

On Wednesday the 25th our “Crew” will chat with PhD student Laura Dawkins of the University of Exeter who earlier this month launched a weather balloon into the atmosphere.  ( The students arrived back each with a few questions they wil ask of Laura and hope will allow them to gather information that will support the design and build phase of our project

Stayed tuned for more following our Hangout with Laura.

The Knowledge Piece..


The last time I shared, I mentioned that we “The Crew”, let our enthusiasm get the better of us and we lost sight of the steps that would help us achieve our end goal.  We jumped light years ahead and found ourselves gathering information and details about the materials/resources that would be need to send the beloved “George” to space and we forgot all about the “knowledge that would be needed to help us understand what we were preparing to do.  Of course, with much open discussion we realized this fairly early on in the project and it has allowed us to backtrack and begin gather some of the “knowledge” of “space”, “DIY exploration” and”near-space ballooning”.  As a group we looked IMG_5790specifically to some of the initial brainstorming to guide us in our search for the knowledge that would be needed to help us understand more about this project.


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Our enthusiasm got the better of us…


The first couple of weeks saw the students scavenging for much information and determining what needed to be accomplished in order to get George on his way to space.  The kids brainstormed many key items that would need to be considered if we were to be successful, top on that list was to be able to get the materials for construction of the “space shuttle”.  Of course, our enthusiasm got the better of us all including us the teachers.  We began more focused on the “materials” than the knowledge we would need to be able to send our package to “space”

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Initial Explorations


Initial exploration had the students in the class identifying;

1.  Things they already knew or thought they already knew,


2.  Things they might need to learn about,


3.  Steps they might need to take in order to achieve the end goal “Launching of George to Space”,


4.  Materials that they thought would be needed to launch and,


5.  Resources or People that might be able to help with the above.


Much of what you see here came from a reading of “Lego Man in Space” early in the year when there were just 4 students in the class, prior independent reading of space and space exploration, hands-on investigation of some materials we had and of course, some generalized reading from our #1 source of information, the WWW.

The thinking here would guide us as we would proceed with the project.

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The Big Question….


After some thought, a little research and a monday morning chat with a coffee in hand, we were ready to present the idea of sending George to space.

Of course the exact details are long forgotten, but that being said, later that day we posed the question, “How would you like to send George to space?”  I recall the reactions quite clearly…and they can be explained in two words, shock and wonder.  And there was a pause from the group that seemed like forever.  Of course there was discussion that followed that included questions, concerns and wonders.

We sent them away that day with the idea that sometime in the near future “before school was out for summer” we would be sending George to space somehow.  Determining how and what would be needed was their task over the next few days.  They did not need to go in depth but rather gain…

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One Thing Leads to Another


It was a late January day, in the Countryside Village Library Commons, the grade six class of Ms. Harper were about to dive into their exploration of space.  This first step was the immersion, give them time to see what space was all about.  Of course, on this day myself and Mrs. Simons our teacher-librarian/inquiry support joined the class, talking about what they were reading, asking questions and making some general observations about the things the students were saying.  Inevitably this got us talking about space, and space exploration which included conversations about Lego Man in Space,  Virgin Galactic and the Mars One project.

What happened next could not be predicted and I cannot recall exactly but I vaguely remember Susan saying “Let’s send George to Space!”  My response, “that would be awesome” who were the students here the teachers or the kids.  Standing there in awe was…

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