NASA has selected the winner of the national Balloonsat High Altitude Flight Competition, a contest that introduces high school students to engineering principles and encourages engineering practices.

The high school team from North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, N.C., took home the top prize.

The winning team’s experiment, “Variations in Polyvinyl Alcohol Radiation Shields,” was one of four student team experiments launched May 26 on a NASA weather balloon to the near-space environment of the stratosphere, an altitude of about 100,000 feet. The experiment demonstrated radiation shielding with homegrown polyvinyl alcohol films through a combination of ground tests and a flight experiment.

“We were impressed by the work of all the teams, but especially this one,” said David Snyder, technical lead for the Balloonsat project at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. “This team won because they combined a variety of techniques and information sources to look for radiation effects.”

NASA will present a medallion to members of the winning team, and the high school will receive a plaque this fall. The student teams were judged on teamwork, presentations at Glenn’s May 27 Balloonsat Symposium, and a final report submitted after the experiments were launched on the weather balloon.

Other teams which had experiments launched were: Charlottesville High School in Charlottesville, Va.; Upper St. Clair High School in Upper St. Clair, Pa.; and Stansbury High School in Stansbury, Utah.

The Balloonsat competition and similar education programs help NASA attract and retain students in math, science, technology and engineering disciplines critical to the agency’s future missions. Balloonsat is sponsored by the Educational Programs Office at Glenn, the Ohio Space Grant Consortium, and Teaching from Space, a program of the Education Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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