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The Franklin News-Post
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Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Gereau students make hot air balloons
Eighth-graders’ efforts were all successful
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Photo by Stephanie Cook: Students in Sandra Sampson’s Aeronautical Science class at the Gereau Center prep and release their hot air balloons in the cafeteria.

Monday, February 3, 2014

By STEPHANIE COOK - Special to the News-Post

Eighth-grade students in Sandra Sampson's Aeronautical Science class recently released homemade hot air balloons in the Gereau Center's cafeteria.

The project was the culmination of the first unit of the new quarter.

"This teaches the students about air, its composition, reaction to temperature changes and how we can use our knowledge about its properties to be useful and fun for people," said Sampson.

The balloons were made from tissue paper. Sampson ordered a roll, so the students could trace a template and cut out 10 panels.

"This is a project that requires teamwork and very careful construction," said Sampson. "Teams learn very quickly about the quality control aspect of putting pieces together to create a system that works."

Once completed, the students took their balloons to the cafeteria. Using heat from a couple of hair dryers, the balloons floated up to the ceiling.

"It was difficult to get it all together in about two to three days," said student Skyler Adams, "but I liked it. It was a really good experience."

Student Hannah Mote said the process was a challenge. "But It was really fun, especially here at the end seeing them fly," she added.

Before they were able to release their balloons, the students spent time practicing the theories behind hot air balloons on the computer with the Hot Air Balloon Simulator. The students learned that as a balloon heats, it will rise, and as it cools, it will drop.

During the flight of their own balloons, Sampson challenged her students to figure out how long it should take them to fall.

"I want the students to not only have fun, but to apply the knowledge that they have taken away from this course, both with mathematics and science" said Sampson.

In the end, each group's balloon made a successful flight.

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