H.S. Aviation Students Launch Hot Air Balloons

MOUNT VERNON – Miniature hot air balloons, crafted by students in classes earlier in the week, rushed to the ceiling of the little gym at Mount Vernon High School, as Aviation students tested their homemade hot air balloons on Thursday, November 2, 2023.

The launch was not successful for every group in the class, but all students learned a valuable lesson about the physics involved in the balloons. David Israel, one of the instructors for the Aviation class alongside L. Gracie Dupree, explained to the class how the two balloons that didn’t make it to the ceiling were not entirely spherical at the top and why that prevented them from rising. They then discussed the principles of engineering that determine the flight of the balloons.

“The great thing about the class is that it literally combines multiple curriculums,” said Mr. Israel. “They’re doing English with their reading and writing on the principles of how the project works. They’re using scientific method that they learned in science classes to create that balloon. There’s tech to it, it’s hands on, it’s kinesthetic. Then the principle they used from science is Archimedes’ principle, so it’s literally like taking a physics lesson and turning it into an all-around class.”

Archimedes’ principle applies to the hot air balloons because the air – when heated up – becomes less dense and the balloon rises to the ceiling. Then, as the air cooled, the balloon fell back to the ground.

Some of the other principles discussed were the principle of planning and carrying out investigations, the principle of defining problems and the principle of constructing explanations and designing solutions.

“I just overall wanted to learn how planes worked and how planes were made, so I really tried to get put in this class,” said Stephen Joachim, ninth grade student at MVHS. “Being able to make drones or hot air balloons and just making stuff in general is interesting to me. I would love to be a pilot, plus I could make a lot of money from it too.”

Students from other classes came to see the launch and the culmination of the Aviation students’ work.

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