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Villa Augustina student Cecilia Turner attaches a homemade hot-air balloon to a stove pipe with the help of science teacher Donna Collins. (KATHY REMILLARD/Union Leader Correspondent)

Up, up and away for students in Goffstown

GOFFSTOWN - The sky was the limit at Villa Augustina Thursday as sixth and seventh graders tested out hot air balloons they made in science class.

Students spent three days making their balloons out of nothing more than tissue paper and glue, then bundled up and headed outside to see how they held up, said science teacher Donna Collins.

A cast iron pan, containers of Sterno and a stove pipe provided enough hot air to propel the balloons, and students measured how far they traveled and observed how the condition of the balloon affected how far it went.

"We had more holes in it on the second launch," said seventh-grader Keara Welch, "and that let more cold air in, so it didn't go as far."

Welch said she enjoyed the project. The best part for her, she said, was building the balloons.

Students were impressed by the distance that some balloons traveled - one went 104 feet. But they were supportive of each other when things didn't go as planned, as some could be heard encouraging a group whose balloon traveled only six feet before falling.

"It was a fun project with a lot of teamwork," said Jessica Edmonds. "It was fun to see something we made go up in the sky." Collins said the project got kids to work together with others they may not normally interact with.

"A lot of it is about cooperation," she said.

The students will take the information gathered Thursday and use it to improve their balloons before a re-launching today.

"This really got them to think," said Collins.

Using the hot air balloons gave students a concrete example of science in action.

"One of the big things kids don't understand is that air has volume, and that the temperature of the air changes the volume," Collins said.

Collins said the launch gave students something fun, yet educational, to do before their upcoming Thanksgiving break. "They're having so much fun, they don't know how much they're learning," she added.

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Kathy Remillard may be reached at

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