My beautiful balloon

WOW! What an amazing learning experience we had at the Year 5 Hot Air Balloon incursion on Monday 1 April.

It was no joke in any shape or form even though the April Fool tradition was mentioned by a few as they couldn’t believe that such an event as this was really going to take place. BUT take place it did and we were very blessed with the weather.

It may be of interest to note that in the late 18th century two French brothers, Joseph Michel and Etienne Jacques Montgolfier, who were paper manufacturers from Annonay, near Lyons, experimented with hot air balloons made from paper, silk and linen.

You might go so far as to say that these inspired brothers were, some (of many, no doubt) forerunners of STEM Science.

Except back then, the concept of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) had not been invented. The Montgolfier brothers spent time designing, drawing plans, working out calculations and using the knowledge they had, experimenting with what we today call prototypes.

Eventually, in September 1783, they held a demonstration flight before the Court at Versailles. This flight incorporated a sheep, a rooster and a duck who were placed in the basket. The trio completed and eight minute flight which ended in a forest about a mile away. These animals were used to observe the effects that altitude might have upon them, as back then they were unsure if being able to breathe up in the air was possible. All three animals survived with no ill effects, which showed that they were still able to breath.

Later tests were undertaken using people as a result of this success. So, we have come a long way since then. It just goes to show how possibilities can become reality when experimentation, along with creative thinking and problem solving skills, are combined to produce something truly spectacular.

It was a great privilege to have the Hot Air Balloon at the College. The delighted and excited faces were a sight to behold, with students having the opportunity to firstly go inside the balloon as it was being inflated, and then in small groups, actually ride in the basket as it was floated upwards whilst being securely tethered.

Science both in action and experienced firsthand! What could be better?

Year 5 students learned many things from incursion, from the basic physics of flight, how the balloon is able to fly and be controlled to the materials and equipment used in this process.

Mr Nick Brau, the chief pilot and balloon owner, also came into the Year 5 classrooms, after everything had been packed away, to answer many questions and give tips and advice for improvements to the students’ own prototypes of hot air balloons.

The whole event was just sensational, the adults were just as excited as the students, and some of us even more so! We would like to thank the College for allowing this wonderful learning opportunity to happen, and all those fantastic helpers at set up and pack up time.

Without this amazing team effort, which included a very early start, the experience would not have been possible. What a very memorable day for our Dominic College community!

You can see more photos on our gallery: Year 5 hot air balloon.

Ms Barbara Moulton - Year 5 teacher

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