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SRP Space Lego

SRP grants launch learning to new heights at Pinnacle High School

SRP Space Lego, Pinnacle High School

Near-space dreams come true for Pinnacle High School students

Recently, Pinnacle High School students achieved a stellar accomplishment.

This morning, the European Space Agency (ESA) made history when its Rosetta spacecraft successfully landed on a comet after a 10-year journey of over 4 billion miles.

“Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured a place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a lander to a comet’s surface,” noted Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director-General, on the ESA website.

As scientists across the world celebrate today’s milestone, let’s take a look at another high-flying project that lands a bit closer to home.

Students in Mike Vargas’ freshman physics class at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix recently conducted a near-space experiment by successfully launching a craft to a height of 70,000 ft and returning it safely to the ground.

Launching into learning

A small military-grade helium weather balloon (five feet in diameter) carried the Styrofoam craft. The photo above shows the craft at 70,000 ft, with Lake Pleasant in the background, and a Lego figure attached – with a “P” for Pinnacle High School – standing behind an SRP logo in the foreground.

The experiment taught the students real-life physics lessons on speed, velocity, distance and acceleration, among others. They also studied weather reports and meteorological data to help predict where the craft would land.

Pinnacle High School used funds from SRP Learning Grants to get the project off the ground. According to Vargas, the students’ next mission in December will be even bigger and bolder.

“We’ll be using a larger balloon, a full-blown avionics package…and shooting to go up to 120 to 130 (thousand) feet,” Vargas said. “We’re getting really pumped!”

Godspeed to Pinnacle High School on their next near-space exploration!

If you know of a school that could use funding for similar educational programs, be sure to let them know about SRP Learning Grants. Applications are now being accepted online at

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