After years of creating Lego hot air balloons, Isaac Glassford got to experience the real deal on Monday.
The Flying High Project, aimed at teaching sustainability through hot air balloons, visited Te Pakihi o Maru, formerly known as Oamaru North School, where Year 5 and 6 pupils helped put the balloon together, and then went on rides in the school field.
When Isaac (10) was told a hot air balloon was coming to his school, he thought it was a joke. He could not have been more thrilled when he saw it at the school grounds on Monday morning.
Isaac said he had been obsessed with hot air balloons since he saw one at the beach, and spent the past five years creating them out of Lego.
He helped Flying High founder Andrew Parker put together the basket’s harness and credited his Lego experience with helping him know what to do.
“I’ve never [been] in a hot air balloon and it’s a special event for me and my family because I’ve always wanted to,” Isaac said.
“I’ve grown up wanting to be on one.”
Te Pakihi o Maru was the only school in Otago selected for the Flying High visit.
Principal Stacey Honeywill said it was an opportunity for the pupils to experience something special, while learning about sustainability in their community.
“Just to see the balloon go up in the field is pretty spectacular,” Mrs Honeywill said.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity for kids in New Zealand to have something like this.”
Mr Parker said he wanted to use his background in the industry to create educational activities in an interactive way, for children to create personal connections between careers and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) learning.
“I love getting kids to think creatively about environmentally sustainable living and how they can be part of the solution. My research into making a hot air balloons more sustainable starts a conversation about personal changes they can make in their everyday lives and ends up talking about the activities they love the most and what they might like to do as a future career,” Mr Parker said.