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King University News :: Freshman Honor Program Students to Launch Project into Stratosphere April 19

Freshman honor students participating in the freshman Science Seminar class will once again travel to Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, Tenn., to launch an experiment into the stratosphere on April 19.  They will soon see all their hard work from the semester come full circle. 

“The Science Seminar allows freshman honor students the opportunity to become more engaged in the field of science and to have the opportunity to become more practical students,” said Dr. Ray Bloomer, professor of Physics and Astronomy and associate dean for Arts and Sciences.  “All of the students enrolled in the class have a strong interest in one of the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

At the beginning of the fall 2012 semester, freshman honor students were enrolled in the first freshman Science Seminar class.  This was the first time that the project based STEM course was offered for freshman honor students.  As part of their project, students designed a full model payload constructed from various scientific parts and instruments to be launched into space.  King students joined other colleges and scientists at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville on Nov. 13, 2012 for the launch. 

“The first attempt at launching a full model payload into the atmosphere included a device built in part out of two cds and an apple corer,” said Bloomer.  “Although the students achieved a successful launch, they did not reach the intended height of 100,000 feet into the atmosphere.  The balloon leveled off at 20,000 feet.  Thus, our experiments were not in the region of the atmosphere where we wanted to see the effects of near space.  We think the balloon may have been defective or a valve may have been left open and the helium leaked out, thus limiting the lift into the air.”

Since the Nov. 2012 experiment, Dr. Bloomer learned that Tennessee High School had a 3-D printer.  3-D printing is the process of making a three-dimensional object of any shape from a digital model.  Utilizing Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, freshman honor student, Austin Patrick, drafted a model that was then fed into the Tennessee High’s 3-D printer.  After 17 hours of processing time, the result was a three-dimensional plastic representation of the student’s model.  This device will replace the previous part made of the cd’s and apple corer.

“This collaborative effort with Tennessee High School provides us with a professionally-made working part for our experiment,” said Bloomer.  “When the balloon is launched, the device will sample the air every five to 10 minutes for spores and other living things as the balloon travels higher into the stratosphere.  This is truly a hands-on experience for these freshman honor students; I feel it speaks highly of the academic principles for which King University is known.”


King University is a Presbyterian, master’s-level comprehensive university.  Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors and pre-professional degrees and concentration in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, digital media, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. For more information visit, call 800.362.0014, or email