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A day at the races -- and in a balloon -- for middle-schoolers

By Daniel Crofts

Middle-schoolers from all over the county came to Batavia Middle School on Tuesday for the "MST Explorer Camp" (see June 19 article for more information). The camp involved students in hands-on learning activities using math, science and technology.

A 13-year-old race car driver and Batavia Middle School student Val Stephens -- pictured center -- helps with a demonstration designed to give the kids a lesson in aerodynamics:

Kevin Raymond, a teacher in the Keshequa School District and a hot-air balloon enthusiast, talks to the kids about the type of energy that powers hot-air balloons. He shows them how they work, using an ultra-light balloon as an example (keep in mind that about 10 of these could fit into one of the larger ones):

(Inside the balloon)

Batavia Middle School technology teacher Frank Panepento shows them how to go about designing CO2 cars. 

The students designed their own cars, put them in a wind tunnel (in order to determine how much speed they could handle), weighed them and, when they finally had all the necessary data, raced them. The students whose cars fared poorly in the race were simply asked to modify their designs and see what effect their modifications had on the cars' efficiency. 


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