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SLU Balloon Launch Teaches Kids About Forecasting

The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department recently launched a weather balloon to teach the basics of storm forecasting to elementary-school students from four schools near the Missouri Botanical Garden. The students are part of the Ambassadors After-School Program, which meets weekly to pursue hands-on education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and nutrition.

Bob Pasken, Ph.D.

SLU professor Bob Pasken, Ph.D., prepares to let loose a weather balloon as students from four local elementary schools look on. Submitted photo

Robert Pasken, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, joined graduate student Miles Bliss, and senior Matthew Roark in demonstrated the procedure to launch a balloon from the top of SLU’s Olive-Compton garage. The launch was the highlight of an Ambassadors field trip to SLU that concluded their study of storm formation and forecasting under Bliss.

The Ambassadors Program is an outreach effort of the Green House Venture, a non-profit that initially grew out of the work of the Micah Program, the Department of Biology, the School of Education and more than twenty SLU faculty members. The primary goal of the Venture is to accelerate STEM education for students in the city and to provide enhanced pathways to higher education and good jobs.

The Venture specializes in hands-on experiments conducted in classrooms and public spaces at participating schools. Part of a larger effort to establish a stimulating ‘culture of science’ for students and their families, the experiments are designed to spark curiosity in STEM subjects. Focusing on bio-science and urban agriculture, they also explore fields in which St. Louis leads the nation.

Collaborators with the Venture include SLU, Washington University, Harris-Stowe State University, St. Louis Community College at the Danforth Plant Science Center, and many local organizations and businesses.