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At 6:30 a.m. on a bright summer morning, girls crowd around the hot air balloons during the first balloon launch at the annual QuickChek Festival of Ballooning.
This was no ordinary summer outing for the group from the Celebrate Girls Summer Program in Paterson, one of several summer programs run by Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey. The girls traveled to the Solberg Airport in Readington to learn about the science of ballooning.
During a hot air balloon demonstration, girls were able to go inside a hot air balloon. The girls learned from an experienced hot air balloon owner, Keith Sproul, how propane thins the air to make the balloons rise. Girls also learned one of the basic scientific principles of ballooning. In order for hot air balloons to rise and float through the air, the air inside the balloon must be lighter than the air on the outside of the balloon.
“It was so exciting to see all the balloons being inflated as we helped to launch each balloon” said Shayla, one of the girls who participated. “This was such an amazing experience. I will never forget this.”
In all, 120 balloons were launched daily during the three-day festival. Balloon launches are dependent on weather and wind conditions, mainly because wind controls the balloon’s travel and landing spot.
“This is a fun and interesting way to teach girls about science and fosters their interest in the subject,” said Charisse Taylor, chief program officer of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey. “Our summer program is different from others in that we help girls learn about a variety of subjects, including science, technology, engineering and math.”
STEM activities at the Celebrate Girls Paterson Summer Program received funding from PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“We are so thankful for the support we receive from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which enables us to provide some of these essential activities for girls,” said Betty Garger, president/chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.
Celebrate Girls Summer Program is run by Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey for eight weeks during July and August. Girls can participate in sports activities, Girl Scout badge activities, or STEM activities.