Muscogee County Schools: Columbus High senior sends MIT acceptance tube into sky

January 19, 2012 

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Erin King, a senior at Columbus High School, celebrated her early acceptance to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a special way.

According to a news release from the Muscogee County School District, only a few students are accepted into early admission at MIT. Those students receive notification in a shiny mailing tube with their letter of acceptance, school information and confetti.

Erin received her tube before Christmas and learned about the tradition in which early admission MIT students do something interesting with their tubes. Some students turn them into marshmallow shooters or an equivalent novel use.

Erin sent hers to the edge of space.

Using a small weather balloon, a couple of GPS equipped radios, a video camera and a tank of helium, Erin released her tube Monday at 1 p.m. from Lumpkin, Ga.

Volunteers from the Columbus Amateur Radio Club drove 100 miles across South Georgia, following the GPS coordinates of the silver tube.

The balloon carried Erin’s tube to 90,000 feet above South Georgia and floated on the atmosphere like a boat on water at the very edge of space.

The balloon popped and the tube came down by parachute near Cordele, Ga., where it was found in a small pine tree.

Erin has been a member of a co-curricular organization called the Columbus Space Program that uses science learned in the classroom to do amazing things after school. Two past members have gone to MIT.

The Columbus Space Program has launched 13 balloons to the edge of space, carrying science experiments designed by students from across Muscogee County.

Erin works with the balloon program and the First Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology robotics team.

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