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Students get close look at floating craft Brooke Binkowski | Sat, Nov 22 2014 12:00 PM

A group of students from Chula Vista got a field trip to Brown Field Municipal Airport last week that took their physics lessons in a new direction: up.

Not too far up, though. A blimp they were allowed to swarm remained tethered to a pole, although it did float off the ground during particularly strong Santa Ana bursts despite the sandbags and several strong men holding it down.

“It was a little bit scary, because it swayed really hard,” said Melody Muqoz, 13, an 8th grader at Castle Park Middle School. “I thought it was pretty fascinating. It was really cool.”

Her classmate, 13 year old Angelica Arzaga, was a little disappointed. “I wanted to go up,” she said.

The blimp tour was part of the Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood project, which is part of a larger project initiated by President Obama. It partners schools with nonprofits to provide lower-income neighhorhoods and at-risk youth with better opportunities than they might ordinarily have in economically depressed areas.

This particular program targets the Castle Park neighborhood. The blimp was part of a partnership with DirecTV.
Ernesto Garcia, 30, works as an academic advocate for Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood, and he said their main goal is getting young people on a path to college or a career.

“We take them to where science or engineering is taking place to get them interested in these degrees,” he said. “This is up front and hands on, and maybe after something this you’d start looking at books a little differently.”

“In a lot of aircraft, you have to figure a weight and balance sheet, but it’s nothing compared to the calculations you have to do on a blimp,” pilot Brett Viets told the class.

“I am willing to learn anything,” said Castle Park Middle School 8th grader Vanessa Villanueva, 13. She said she loves learning about science and finding out how things work. “If I see something I’m determined to learn about it... this is really, really, really fascinating.”

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