SWEET VALLEY — Students at Ross Elementary School found themselves floating away with science during a hot air balloon assembly held Monday.
The elementary school hosted an hour-long presentation from Lee Teitsworth of Liberty Balloon Company in Groveland, New York.
The hot air balloonist had a 400-pound wicker basket, a 300-pound deflated multi-colored hot air balloon and much more to show the nearly 280 students.
Windy weather conditions prevented Teitsworth and his staff from fully inflating the balloon, said Michelle Davies, vice president of Ross Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.
But students’ interest soared.
“They did partially inflate it (the balloon),” Davies said. “They (the students) were really curious about the burners,” Davies said.
When Teitsworth and his staff lit the burners, “it was loud,” she said.
Teitsworth demonstrated how the propane burners, at the base of the balloon, heat the air inside the balloon, allowing it to inflate.
“Hot air makes the balloon rise,” Davies said.
During a flight, burners are turned on periodically to keep the air hot inside the inflated balloon, Teitsworth said.
“The balloon when fully inflated weighs 6,000 pounds,” he said.
Monday’s windy conditions prevented Teitsworth from fully inflating the hot air balloon — and students could see why.
The wind’s effect blew the partially-inflated balloon in different directions.
This example led Teitsworth into an explanation on how balloonist cannot control the direction of hot air balloons.
“They can’t control the direction,” Davies said. “They are at the mercy of the wind.”
This uncontrollable nature of ballooning has been an issue with the mode of transportation.
One of the first hot air balloon landings, outside of Paris, France in the late 1700s surprised rural residents, said Carroll Teitsworth, owner and chief pilot of Liberty Balloon Company.
“They thought they were being invaded,” he said. “Balloonists began carrying champagne to offer property owners and prove they were from France.”
Students were curious about the strength of the fabric for the hot air balloon.
Teitsworth brought along a sample of the fabric from a hot air balloon and challenged a student to tear the fabric.
He could not.
Teitsworth then called on a male teacher to try to tear the fabric.
He could not, either.
The hands-on experience captured the imagination of students and faculty, Davies said.