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High School Students To Launch Stratosphere Mission

Students at a high school in Northern California with send scientific instruments into the stratosphere to gather images and other data about Earth's atmosphere.

The mission is the second such project from students at The Bay School of San Francisco, a coeducational college prep school serving 275 students in grades 9 through 12. The previous mission, in 2010, sent a probe called Ikaros I aboard a helium-filled weather balloon to a height of more than 75,000 feet. Students tracked its progress using GPS and gathered images and information about temperatures, atmospheric composition, and pressure.

The second mission, Ikaros II, set to launch April 15, will attempt to gather additional data from an altitude of 100,000 feet, about halfway through the stratosphere. Project participants--13 students and instructors Craig Butz and Richard Piccioni--are also being tasked to "develop a reliable, easy-to-launch set-up that will facilitate the regular launch of student science experiments and collection of data related to climate issues," the school reported.

The mission is part of an ongoing "annual Intersession Program, a week of hands-on, experience-based classes that are a central part of the Bay School's forward-looking college preparatory curriculum," according to information released by the school.

Further information about the mission, including live updates, can be found at the Project Ikaros home page here.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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