How These Scouts Launched a Balloon Into the Stratosphere

Scouting invites youth to reach new heights – whether they are growing educationally, physically, socially or in a variety of other ways. But some opportunities in Scouting take reaching new heights to a literal extent, like the Scouts from the Chief Seattle Council who launched a high-altitude balloon project more than 100,000 feet up.

“My favorite part was chasing the balloon. The overall running after it, trying to figure out where it went,” said Max R., a member of Scout Troop 544 and seventh-grader, to The Outlook.

Thanks to the idea from their Scoutmaster, Phil Foss, the troop learned about the importance of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) while constructing a project that would send a helium-filled balloon into the stratosphere.

“We started the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program for the troop. We wanted something really interesting for them. We have to compete with screens now. And this project goes back to traditional Scouting values,” Foss said.

Though Foss introduced the idea, he says the Scouts brought the project to life. The project also allowed the Scouts to earn up to nine merit badges in the process.

“They brainstormed different packaging, a bucket, a wooden frame and finally decided on a styrofoam cooler,” Foss said. “They also needed to plan a ‘power budget.’ They needed a battery that was not too heavy, but would also power the equipment the length of the flight.”

The Scouts were also conscientious about safety throughout the entire process. They had to design the apparatus and meet safety requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Both the kids and adults were excited by the project, with special interest in the photographs the balloon was able to capture. One photo even showed an aircraft soaring below the balloon.

“The pictures were really cool,” Max R. said. “The pictures where we could see the curvature of the earth were epic.”

To learn more about this out of this world Scout project, read the full story on The Outlook.


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Hayley Cordaro is a communications specialist at the Boy Scouts of America. She loves sharing inspiring success stories and uncovering new ways volunteers and employees can make the most of their Scouting experience. If you have story ideas or questions, reach out to us at