The University of Southampton

PhySoc sends Creeper into space!

Published: 19 October 2012

An innovative challenge in which the University of Southampton PhySoc helped schoolchildren from St Albans launch their experiments into ‘space’, also included banishing a Minecraft Creeper as far away as possible.

Earlier this year, the University of Southampton PhySoc launched a new PhySoc Outreach Project devised and led by Physics undergraduate Chris Frohmaier, PhySoc Outreach Chair and final-year student on the MPhys with Astronomy. The idea behind the project was to help schoolchildren from St Albans launch their experiments into ‘space’. PhySoc were keen to get the schoolchildren excited about practical science and to inspire them to study Physics at the University of Southampton.

The schoolchildren put their experiments into table-tennis balls which were then launched on a balloon with a tracker designed by Electronics student Matthew Brejza, a member of the Southampton University ASTRA Initiative. Physics student George Winstone also designed an experiment to detect cosmic particles. With the aid of Cambridge University Spaceflight Society (CUSF), the weather-balloon was launched from Churchill College, and tracked throughout the duration of its flight.

The payload also included cameras loaded with CHDK software to take pictures on the way up. “As a group, we saw this as a brilliant time to also launch some of our own personal hobbies”, said Ben Oxley of the PhySoc Outreach team, “and so a Minecraft ‘Creeper’ and chest were launched.”

Although the balloon burst early, it reached a maximum altitude of 23km! It then descended and landed in a field where after some searching it was found still intact and still taking photos!

The Physoc Outreach team is run by dedicated undergraduate students from Physics and other disciplines, who are all passionate about passing on their enthusiasm for science.

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