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Grand Haven twins inspire weather balloon launch | News

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Grand Haven twins inspire weather balloon launch

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- After reading an article in Popular Mechanics magazine, twins Brian and Tyler Harms had an idea. The fourth graders at Mary A. White Elementary School in Grand Haven decided to embark on a special project.

"We're going to launch a balloon that's hooked up to a cooler and that balloon has a camera on the bottom," said Brian.

They enlisted help from their father, Dave, and the idea became a reality. "The next morning he was like, 'We've got to do this, we've got to try this'," said Brian.

Soon the idea began to take shape, and the two brothers got their science teacher and entire class interested in the project. "They were excited," said Tyler.

They would launch the camera with a helium weather balloon -- the same kind the National Weather Service uses to launch an instrument package, called a radiosonde, which gathers crucial weather information in the atmosphere.

Eventually the whole school got excited about the launch.

Brian and Tyler chose a small styrofoam cooler and packed it with a video camera, a GPS-enabled phone, some hand-warmers to keep the equipment from freezing, and packing peanuts to cushion it during the landing.

After some trial and error following the first launch Thursday afternoon, more helium was added. On the second attempt, they had a successful release. The balloon reached almost 20,000 feet as it flew over Ottawa County. The balloon landed in a field just west of Coopersville.


WZZM 13's Blake Naftel tracked the balloon in the WZZM 13 Weather Chaser vehicle and streamed its progress.