It was an unusual sight for students and neighbors recently at Frisco ISD’s Riddle Elementary School.
A hot air balloon towered seven stories over head, as groups of fourth graders gathered on the lawn outside the school.
“What happens to hot air?” asked parent Steve Smith.
“It rises,” a student responded.
“That’s right,” Smith said. “The more heat, the more weight we can carry in here and the higher we can go.”
Smith, a parent of fourth grade twins, volunteered to inflate the thousand-pound hot air balloon and talk to students about how it works. A red balloon tied nearby helped test the strength and direction of the wind.
“The balloon has no steering wheel and no brakes,” Smith explained. “Every time we fly is an adventure. We don’t know where we’ll land. The helium balloon gives us the most information that we are going to get.”
The demonstration corresponds with the District’s science curriculum.
“This is a great opportunity for kids to see how wind affects the hot air balloon,” said fourth grade teacher Melissa Matthews. “We have been studying weather – cold and warm fronts and high and low pressure and how those different parts of the weather affect the wind. Students get to take what they learn in class and apply it to real life.”
Students watched as Smith used propane burners to warm air in balloon’s envelope.
“I’ve never seen one this close,” said fourth grader Megan McGown. “It’s cool that we get to see it in person, up close instead of just seeing it in the air. So we can see how it works and how it moves.”
Smith hopes the experience was educational and interesting for students.
“I hope they understand about a different kind of aviation and who does it and why,” he said. “I love to watch their eyes when the burner lights up, when it comes out of the bag and grows to a huge balloon.”
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