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A lofty lesson
Teamwork, science carry balloon exercise
Mini Balloons 4 es
Cummo releases the first hot air balloon from the launcher as Taylor Daigrepont and Delaney Ripley watch its ascent. - photo by Emily Saunders
The science, math and team-building skills of Liberty Middle School students reached new heights Friday.

Classmates in Chris Cummo’s eighth-grade science class teamed up in groups of four to launch 8-foot-tall hot air balloons over the campus in northwestern Forsyth County.

“They love this stuff,” Cummo said as he watched the balloons, made of tissue paper, stick glue and wire. Some reached heights of 300 feet.

“This type of project is important, especially in a day and age when we’re testing kids all the time,” he said. “Schools are pushing toward a more drab kind of system. A project like this is a real highlight for these kids.”

Student Dustin Harden seemed to enjoy the project.

“It was very exciting,” Harden said as his team prepped its balloon for takeoff. “It wasn’t that difficult of a project. We had fun constructing the balloon.”

Cody Mixon was on Harden’s team. The group watched the balloon soar for several minutes before landing in a field near the school. Team members then examined the deflated orb.

Mixon looked the balloon over and said it “would have flown better with less holes in it.”

Students worked on their balloons for about a week. Cummo said teamwork paid off in the end.

“The balloons were awesome today,” he said. “They flew wonderfully and kept their shape. Could one person have done this? No way. It takes teamwork.”

Cummo’s classes launched a combined 24 balloons on Friday.

Following the first launch of the day, he brought his class together for a “debriefing” on the project. He encouraged his students to consider future opportunities that could develop skills such as those used in the balloon project.

“Think about the kinds of jobs that are out there,” Cummo said. “Everything in this world has been designed by a team. There’s so many jobs out there that require a person to know math and science to build and construct.”

While the exercise may not have sparked an interest in science or engineering in every student, they all seemed to enjoy completing it.

Megan Keys described it as “a fun project.”

“It was something different,” she said. “We had a good time.”

E-mail Frank Reddy at