College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Fair food favorites fly far with M:2:I HABET balloon demonstration

Matt Nelson and students adjust balloon
Matt Nelson and students adjust balloon
M:2:I director Matthew Nelson (right) and students make adjustments to the HABET balloon prior to launch.

The midway was nearby. But for some, one of the most exciting rides at the Iowa State Fair was had by various fair foods aboard a balloon launched by an Iowa State University team to give youngsters a close-up look at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Balloon launch logosThe Department of Aerospace Engineering’s Make to Innovate (M:2:I) program, the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, along with ISU Extension and Outreach and the Stratospheric Ballooning Association, teamed up to make the flight possible. It utilized one of M:2:I’s HABET (High Altitude Balloon Experiments in Technology) balloons, which carried a payload of a corn dog, cheese curds and a chocolate chip cookie.

Balloon payload with corn dog, cheese curds, chocoloate chip cookie
A corn dog, cheese curds and a chocolate chip cookie from the fair are ready for their ride high into the atmosphere inside a special container.

Youngsters taking part made predictions about what would happen to the various food items as the balloon gained altitude into much colder temperatures, and about where they thought the balloon would land (it came down near DeSoto, west of Des Moines, after bursting).

Read more about the events of the day and how it engaged young science lovers in a story posted by Iowa Public Radio.