FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          June 8, 2015

Contact:  Melissa Holdaway, Chief Operations Officer 623-974-4959, extension 334

Arizona Charter Academy Sends Weather Balloon into Space

Members of the School’s STEM Club Recently Launched a Weather Balloon, which Reached an Altitude of Just Over 100,000 Feet

SURPRISE, Arizona—Thanks to the hard work of Arizona Charter Academy’s STEM Club, the school can say it has officially sent something into space.

In late May, members of the school’s STEM Club launched a weather balloon. Kris Schmidt, who oversees the STEM Club in addition to teaching high school math and physics at ACA, said the weather balloon spent about 3 hours in the air, during which time it covered around 200 miles and reached an altitude of just over 100,000 feet. To see a video of the project, visit

“When the balloon landed it was 60 miles east of Payson, by Dry Lake,” Schmidt said, adding that the eighth through twelfth graders in the STEM Club had run dozens of simulations online trying to estimate where it might land.

“We had been pretty accurate as far as direction, but it went farther than we had predicted.”

Schmidt said the balloon, which was ordered from a company in England, came with most of the pieces to make it work, including GPS devices, a black box that records altitude and temperature, the parachute and some paracord.

“We made the payload box ourselves from Styrofoam, purchased a GoPro camera, SIM cards for the GPS devices and then assembled it all,” Schmidt said.

To get clearance to launch the weather balloon, Schmidt said he spoke first with someone at the regional airport, who was helpful in connecting him with a Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Control tower and the FAA, who then alerted all local airports and authorities about the launch.

Although the black box didn’t work during the flight, Schmidt said the video feed that recorded is amazing, and a photo was taken by the GoPro camera  at the very edge of the Earth’s atmosphere.

“You can see the curvature of the Earth and some notable land features,” he said.

“The students were ecstatic to see the footage and the balloon returned. I did very little besides facilitate the project; the kids took control of it and made it happen. They are amazing.”



***ADDITIONAL PHOTOS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST***For more information about Arizona Charter Academy’s STEM Club and their recent weather balloon project, please contact Melissa Holdaway at 623-974-4959, extension 334.


About Arizona Charter Academy:

Arizona Charter Academy is an A rated, K-12 public charter school in Surprise, AZ, whose mission is provide outstanding education to enable students to create positive change in their community, country and world.   ACA accomplishes this by promoting and expecting excellence, embracing diversity, teaching students to effectively express their viewpoints backed with evidence, and serving our community. ACA has intentionally small classrooms,  with a 24:1 student/teacher ratio, promote personal student attention, and supplemental and enrichment programs including honors courses, dual enrollment with Grand Canyon University, National Honor Society, Art, and wide variety of clubs are available to students at no additional charge. For more information, please visit

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