Dr Willem Jordaan from Stellenbosch university, Sam Jeffery and Andries Burger joined a hundred young South African science enthusiasts from various schools around Cape Town in celebrating Earth Day with ExoLab by launching a high-altitude probe balloon from Saldanha Airport. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Dr Willem Jordaan from Stellenbosch university, Sam Jeffery and Andries Burger joined a hundred young South African science enthusiasts from various schools around Cape Town in celebrating Earth Day with ExoLab by launching a high-altitude probe balloon from Saldanha Airport. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

PICS: Earth Day celebrated with science-filled balloons in Saldanha Bay

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Apr 23, 2021

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Cape Town - Through its innovative global ExoLab programme, more than 100 learners from Cape Town schools participated in a special Earth Day celebration at the Saldanha Airfield in Saldanha Bay.

The organisers of the event treated the learners to the launch of two InterMet super pressure high-altitude balloon payloads.

Two InterMet high-pressure balloons were launched, each carrying a Styrofoam payload that houses data collection and sensing devices. The balloon flight took about two hours and proceeded to ascend to an altitude of 30 000 metres above sea level.

At its peak, the balloon burst, and the payload box fell back to the ground where students were tracking the flight in real-time.

Students and mentors recovered the payload upon its return to Earth and will use the data analysis for real-world problem-solving and innovation opportunities.

A hundred young South African science enthusiasts from various schools around Cape Town joined in celebrating Earth Day with ExoLab by launching a high-altitude probe balloon from Saldanha Airport. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Dr Willem Jordaan from Stellenbosch university, Sam Jeffery and Andries Burger joined a hundred young South African science enthusiasts from various schools around Cape Town in celebrating Earth Day with ExoLab by launching a high-altitude probe balloon from Saldanha Airport. Picture Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Khomotso Mamashela, 16, from Claremont High, said: “For me, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m so grateful for it. As a young black girl, I don’t see my peers in these spaces and, amazingly, I’m here now. The activity we’re doing today goes hand-in-hand with my physical sciences and mathematics studies.”

Layla Moses, 16, from Cape Academy said: “Today has been amazing. I learned so much, and I’m truly grateful to have been a part of the event. Happy Earth Day to everyone.”

I-Innovate chief executive Trisha Crookes said through the innovative, global ExoLab programme, which connects more than 300 South African learners from six schools to the international ExoLab community, I-Innovate and sponsor IT service provider Tata Consulting Services South Africa (TCS) were able to host the unique 2021 Earth Day event.

Crookes said: “This was an exciting opportunity for our students not just to commemorate Earth Day, but to give them hands-on experience, navigating scientific inquiry and problem-solving with local experts and mentors.

“The elements of Earth Day’s balloon launch went hand-in-hand with students’ global ExoLab experiment on the ISS to deepen their understanding of a range of maths, science, and tech concepts as well as critical 21st-century skills.”

Head of TCS South Africa Nikhil Dabhole said: “The programme opens up the worlds of science, technology and space to South African learners who may never have had the chance to dream of careers such as an astronaut.

“This collaborative Earth Day event is made possible through partnerships with an aerospace education specialist, the Sakhikamva Foundation, and satellite and technology solutions provider Astrofica.”

Dr Willem Jordaan from Stellenbosch university, Sam Jeffery and Andries Burger joined a hundred young South African science enthusiasts from various schools around Cape Town in celebrating Earth Day with ExoLab by launching a high-altitude probe balloon from Saldanha Airport. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Argus

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