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Arcadia Middle Schoolers Launch Weather Balloon into Near-Earth Orbit

Students at Dana Middle School launched a weather balloon Tuesday that teachers expect to rise 80,000 feet high before popping and descending on a parachute.

The 6th, 7th and 8th graders built the balloon as part of the school's "Space Race" class, which is designed to challenge students interested in math, science, and engineering. Kids in th class have also built rockets, catapults and space suits, according to assistant principal David Paszkiewicz, who helped design the curriculum.

"The goal was to get kids really interested in science and technology to really take some risks," Paszkiewicz said.

The balloon is outfitted with two cameras and a GPS tracking device. It is expected to be airborne for about two hours.

"As soon as school is over a teacher and I are hopping in my car and driving over the hill hoping we can find it," Paszkiewicz said.

Students and teachers have been watching wind patterns for weeks and Paszkiewicz said they predict the balloon will land somewhere near Edwards Air Force Base.

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