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High-Altitude Balloon Program

Launching a Balloon

LEARN MORE
ABOUT OUR PROGRAM

GET INVOLVED
WITH OUR PROGRAM

Ballooning Opportunities

Teachers & Educators

We conduct most of our high-altitude balloon launches at K-12 schools across Wyoming. For this reason, we are almost always looking for teachers who are interested in getting involved with our ballooning program. Currently, we offer two ways for teachers to do this: (1) hosting and participating in a one-time balloon launch event, or (2) serving as a partner teacher on our LIFT Project.

HOSTING A BALLOON LAUNCH

This is the easiest way to participate in one of our balloon launches. You submit a request asking us to come do a launch at your school, and if we can accommodate it then we will make it happen! This is how we have been doing our launches for the last 5+ years and it generally works out really well.

Several weeks before the launch, we will send you some styrofoam payload boxes. These will carry whatever materials/experiments that you and your students choose to to send up with the balloon. As the teacher, it is your responsibility to make sure your payloads are ready to go by launch day. We can provide some help with this, but we do encourage the students come up with their own ideas, experiments, and hypotheses.

  • If this sounds interesting to you, please check out our Balloon Launch 101 page for a more detailed description of how these launches work
  • Questions? We encourage you to read through our Ballooning FAQs
  • If you decide that a one-time balloon launch event is right for you and your students, you can submit a balloon launch request form and we will try to respond in a timely manner

SERVING ON THE LIFT PROJECT

The LIFT Project is a year-long program, running January to December, for undergraduate students at UW. The goal is to have these students develop K-12 STEM projects and curriculum centered around high-altitude ballooning. We divide the students into small teams of about three (3) to work on these projects. After brainstorming project ideas, each team is paired up with a K-12 partner teacher who they will collaborate with throughout the year.

As part of the program, the partner teachers would be able to host at least one balloon launch at their school during the fall semester. The launch will be sandwiched between a predetermined set of pre-launch and post-launch lessons and activities with the partner teacher’s class. These lessons will be taught by the LIFT undergraduates, either in person or remotely.

At this time, we only take two (2) partner teachers each year, so getting involved with this program can be quite competitive. Also, we have high expectations for our partner teachers given the level of commitment, responsibility, and collaboration that is required. If this sounds exciting to you and you’d like to know more about the program, please check out our LIFT Project page.

Ballooning Opportunities

College Students

Undergraduate students who are interested in getting involved with high-altitude ballooning at UW can apply to be a part of our LIFT Project. This is a competitive year-long program, running January to December. The purpose of the program is to bring together students majoring in science, engineering, and science education to develop K-12 STEM projects and curriculum centered around high-altitude ballooning.

The application period for this program takes place during the fall semester. Applications for the 2020 LIFT Project are currently being accepted through October 31, 2019.

  • Students can click here to learn more about the LIFT Project
  • If you are interested in applying, please see our online application page
  • If you have any questions about the program, feel free to reach out to us via email at wsgc@uwyo.edu

NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • If you would like for us come do a high-altitude balloon launch with your school or organization, please submit a request form
  • Learn more about our Undergraduate High Altitude Balloon Project, the NSF-funded LIFT Project
  • We recently added a Ballooning FAQ and a Balloon Launch 101 that includes lots of information related to our launches
  • We recently added a complete list of our Past Balloon Launches

Spring 2019 Balloon Launches

Here are a few videos highlighting our Spring 2019 launches. Be sure to check out our YouTube channel to view more balloon launch videos going back as far as 2014!

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Wyoming Space Grant has been running a successful high-altitude balloon satellite program since 2014. As of 2019, we have launched more than 40 balloons across the state with well over 1,000 participants and spectators. The majority of these launches have taken place with K-12 schools, summer camps, and after school programs, involving more than 700 students and 100 teachers. We have also launched with college groups inside and outside of UW, as well as other non-K-12 educational groups around the state.

In 2017, we were active participants in the Eclipse Ballooning Project led by Montana State University, allowing us to stream live footage of solar eclipse totality to the internet from high above Casper, WY. More recently, we began the LIFT Project, an outreach program that allows undergraduates from UW to get involved with K-12 high-altitude ballooning. Our future endeavors will continue to focus on using the thrill and excitement of high-altitude ballooning to provide authentic hands-on learning experiences for students and teachers across Wyoming.

Meet our High-Altitude Ballooning Expert

Phil Bergmaier, PhD

Education:

Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming
M.S. in Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming
B.S. in Meteorology, Millersville University, PA

Research Interests:

  • Lake-effect snowstorms
  • Mesoscale and boundary layer processes
  • Drylines and severe storms
Philip Bergmaier

Biography:

Phil grew up in Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. Ever since he was a young lad he’s been fascinated with weather, so in high school he decided to go to college to become a meteorologist. After completing his undergraduate work at Millersville University, a small school in south-central Pennsylvania, he moved to Wyoming to attend graduate school at UW. For his Master’s degree, Phil produced several studies focusing on Southeast Wyoming drylines, shallow moisture boundaries that are more commonly found in the Southern Plains but occasionally develop in the summer along the Laramie Range. The focus of Phil’s research then transitioned to wintertime phenomena as he pursued his PhD. His doctoral work focused on the internal dynamics of intense lake-effect snowbands that were observed over Lake Ontario during the NSF-funded Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems (OWLeS) field campaign.

During his time as a graduate student, Phil was heavily involved in science outreach across Wyoming. He was a fellow with the UW Science Posse for two years, allowing him to bring weather-related lessons and activities to K-12 classrooms throughout the state. He then spent four years as a graduate fellow with the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium at UW. His primary responsibilities focused on launching and then recovering high-altitude weather balloons and experiment payloads with K-12 schools in Wyoming. He also involved in the Eclipse Ballooning Project and co-led a team of undergraduates from Casper College in an effort to live-stream the 2017 solar eclipse from near space via a high-altitude balloon. After receiving his PhD in 2018, Phil began a new role as a postdoctoral associate with the Wyoming Space Grant. He will be involved with the new NSF-funded LIFT Project, which seeks to improve the science content of the Space Grant’s high-altitude balloon program.

In his free time when not launching balloons, Phil thoroughly enjoys the outdoors and spends not nearly enough time skiing and hiking. He is also a photography enthusiast with a particular interest in landscapes and weather. The latter is one of the reasons why he sometimes finds himself storm chasing during the spring and summer. Lastly, Phil is a sports fanatic and tends to obsessively follow his hometown Philly teams.