Students discover weather balloon in backyard

7:32 AM, Apr 13, 2013   |    comments
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STETSON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- It took the students at the Stetson Ranch School a while to figure out what the styrofoam box was in their backyard Wednesday, but after further investigation, they discovered that it was a weather balloon: A science experience that dropped right from the sky. 

The discovery happened when students were retrieving basketballs from behind the school and found the remains of what was a weather balloon at one time.

"One of the students brought it back in and he was like look what I found, look what I found," said Sophomore Lacresha Howard. "I'm like whoa what is this thing."

After reading more information on the box, Howard and her classmates discovered that the balloon had been launched from the National Weather Service in Gray last August. Each day two balloons are released from that office according to Observing Program Leader at the National Weather Service, Nikki Becker.

"A model of what the atmosphere is doing at that time as they launch and they collect pressure, temperature, humidity and the winds," said Becker.

Only 20% of the balloons that are released actually get found and shipped back. Each one contains a self-addressed pre-stamped envelope so that it can be shipped back to the National Weather Service office in Kansas City.

"We try to, if it's possible, to recondition the sonde and reuse them to help reduce the cost of launching the weather balloons," said Becker.

Becker also says that most of the balloons deflate and fall around the Augusta area, or they are blown out to sea. The fact that this one in particular made it as far north as Stetson was a thrill for the students.

"To find it was pretty cool and the kids were very excited about it," said Stetson Ranch Education Coordinator, Joe Howard. "They all wanted to see it, they wanted to touch it, they wanted to hold it"



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