CRESTVIEW — Antioch Elementary School is celebrating the campus’ 20th anniversary. On Tuesday, that celebration — fittingly — came with some education.

The Shoal River Middle School Band played and 900-plus students and staffers cheered as airmen from Hurlburt Field launched a weather balloon on campus. Science Department Chair Laura Pink scheduled the launch to correlate with the fifth-grade science curriculum.  

“We are sending up a weather balloon with a payload attached to the balloon,” Bill Andrus, operations and training manager at Hurlburt, said. “It also has a GPS. The radio responder will send signals back that will give us information on the clouds, winds, visibility, humidity and other data about the weather.”

Pink said the balloon floats to a height of at least 100,000 feet before expanding and bursting. “The data that the weather balloon sends back will be shared with us and we can use it in our science classroom,” Pink said.

Students pointed and waved as the weather balloon floated further into the sky.

Later, Staff Sgt. David Murphy talked to students about the type of data that the weather balloon would test. His talk included information about the water cycle, sea breezes, types of weather and clouds. He also gave two pop quizzes on the screen about weather and brought various students up to answer questions. Each group scored 100 percent on the pop quizzes.

The Florida Department of Education’s fifth-grade science standards include creating a model to explain parts of the water cycle and being able to recognize how air temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction, and precipitation determine the weather.

Fifth-graders also have to be able to distinguish among various forms of precipitation. These are factors that students will be able to study in data that the weather balloon sends back.

“We have a great partnership with the military,” Pink said. “Plus, this is a great way to start off Antioch Elementary’s 20th-anniversary celebration.”

The celebration continues on Friday, Antioch Aviator Day, when parents and teachers will compete in a kickball game.