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Hartselle Enquirer
Courtesy photo A high-altitude balloon project by Hartselle's "Climate Crew" prepares to launch. The project experienced more than five hours at approximately 70,500 feet – more than 13 miles above earth this summer.

Rising to the challenge: Hartselle students send high-altitude balloon into stratosphere  

A student team from Hartselle Junior High School watched earlier this summer as their winning science and technology experiment aimed to measure the occurrence of acid rain launched to the stratosphere aboard a high-altitude balloon, experiencing more than five hours at approximately 70,500 feet – more than 13 miles above earth. The experiment is now back at the school and the students are busy analyzing the data together to see what they discovered. 

Hartselle Junior High’s “Climate Crew” was the only school group in Alabama to win in NASA TechRise, a national competition held this spring aimed at engaging students in science, technology and space exploration. The ‘crew’ is made up of Lyla Crouch, Chloe Cutshall, Addison Faulk and Claire Joseph.  

Crouch said she has learned a lot about problem solving through this project with the “Climate Crew.”  

“I have learned that even if there are countless errors and what feels like months of fixing one small thing, there is a solution to every problem and in the end, we got our project up in the sky and back,” she said.  

Crouch, now a ninth grader at Hartselle High School, added she plans to study biomedical engineering.  

“This challenge has provided me the feeling of getting to build and wire and code something from scratch and under a time limit, which is very preparing for the type of career choice I’m going for,” she said.  

Teammate Addison Faulk said she would love to enter the TechRise competition again this year.  

“This project has shaped my career goals by leaning my interests more to the engineering side. My love for engineering has definitely grown, post TechRise competition. I am still not sure what I specifically want to do, but I am sure that it will relate to science and problem solving,” Faulk said.  

The NASA TechRise challenge, in collaboration with educational group Future Engineers, chose 60 winners from sixth to 12th grade schools across the country. Winning teams earned $1,500 to fund their experiments and research. 

Cheyenne Moses is the sponsor for the Climate Crew.  

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