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Manlius Pebble Hill students study of hot air balloons crosses subjects and grade levels, September 20, 2010

DeWitt, NY — Seven-year-old Max Miramoglu of Fayetteville said he wouldn’t be at all frightened to take a ride in the hot air balloon that “landed” on the Manlius Pebble Hill school front lawn Monday morning.

“I think my dad would be scared, but I think it would be fun,” he said. “It was cool that I got to touch it and see it up close.”

The balloon, brought to the school by Bob Grandinetti of LTA Aviation, actually was transported by van to the school, and then inflated and later deflated for the students to see. It’s all part of MPH’s kick-off event launching its multi-disciplinary study of hot air balloons throughout the lower grades.

More than 180 children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade will learn all hot air balloons, and aspects of them will be tied into their lessons on character education, art and music, English, science, history and more.

The four and five-year-olds will learn about air and wind, and also how wind factors into their study of butterflies. First graders will do virtual balloon travel using the theme of “Around the World in 90 Days” using the number of school days instead.

Second graders will learn the science behind air and wind, while fifth-graders will learn how hot air balloons led to man’s fascination with flight. They also will learn about people who have explored the world in balloons, planes and spaceships. And all the lower grades will use the balloon metaphor as a character education theme, showing how acts of kindness lift people’s spirits. The children also wrote down their hopes, dreams and goals for the year and then placed them inside the balloon’s basket Monday.

“The balloon is such as visual thing that it’s a great way to soar into a fresh new year,” said second-grade teacher Kathryn Lester.

The children squealed with delight as the 90,000-cubic-foot balloon inflated, and they took turns going up to see it. “It’s really cool,” said second-grader Emma Sherwood of Chittenango. “I thought you blew a fan and the balloon went up, but I learned it’s a burner that really puts it in the air,” she said. “I never saw one up close before.”

“I like that it floats in the air,” said second-grader Natalie Storie of Fayetteville. “And I never knew the burner that makes it go up is so loud.”