DUNLAP — Students at Concord South Side Elementary School gathered in a circle on their grassy playground Friday morning with their eyes glued to the rainy blue sky.

As the countdown neared, the students chanted “Launch it! Launch it!” seconds before the school’s fourth-grade high ability class released a helium-filled weather balloon.

“Wow, that’s so cool,” a number of students said as they watched the balloon soar swiftly into the air.

Planning for the weather balloon launch began in January after Christmas Break, said Amy Marsh, high ability teacher.

Preparations included doing extensive research about the atmosphere, fundraising for equipment, getting permission from the school board to travel and contacting the Federal Aviation Administration to request permission to do the launch.

The experiment allows students to write, read and do mathematical calculations in an authentic, real-world situation outside the classroom, school officials said.

“I’m really proud of their work,” Marsh said of her students. “They really worked together as a team to get things done efficiently.”

But Friday’s experiment wasn’t without a couple of hiccups. One of the GPS’ attached to the balloon wasn’t working properly, preventing the students from tracking the balloon when it gets over 60,000 feet.

“We were deciding whether we wanted to wait and try to get another one, but the students said ‘let’s launch it and we’ll track it once it gets under 60,000 feet.’ So that’s what we did,” Marsh said.

Fourth-grader Gio Pratt said the glitch taught him more about problem-solving and to always have some back-up equipment.

“I’m glad we were able to launch it, but back up equipment is very important in case something goes wrong,” he said.

Classmates Rylee Glover and Iegor Kaziuka both said the experiment taught them the importance of teamwork.

“Without teamwork, we would all fall apart,” Glover said. “We each had a role in this and it wasn’t something one person could do alone.”

Each of the students said they were excited to see where the balloon lands.

After the launch, the class then got on a bus to attempt to track and retrieve the balloon using a GPS and satellite tracker.

“I hope it lands somewhere in Ohio – that’s one of my favorite states,” said Kaziuka.

“I’d like it to land somewhere in Indiana, but not in a town close to us,” said student Chase Aplin.

No update was available on where the balloon landed by press time Friday afternoon. 

South Side was the third of four elementary schools to do the weather balloon launch this month. Balloons at Ox-Bow and East Side elementary schools both landed in Canada. West Side will hold its launch next Friday. 

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