A class of fifth-grade students Friday opened up ping-pong balls with small science experiments inside after they returned from a trip to the “edge of space” inside the Earth’s atmosphere.

Teacher Rich Pysher at Kyrene de los Cerritos Elementary is the first to bring this science project to his school and the district.

Through a free program offered by JP Aerospace, students can send in ping-pong balls with science experiments that fit inside known as “pongsats” or pong satellites. JP Aerospace will launch the pongsats into the stratosphere on either a balloon or sounding rocket.

Students in Pysher’s homeroom sent out pongsats that carried things from marshmallows, blueberries, popcorn kernels and erasers. The projects were launched on April 6.

For Anne Marie Standridge, she noticed that the blue eraser in her pongsat changed properties upon returning, as the eraser’s coloring turned her fingers blue.

“It was exciting getting it back, we’re one of the first classes to do this,” Standridge said.

Assuming her popcorn kernel would pop or the piece of chocolate in her pongsat would melt, Ashaya Stewart said the exact opposite happened to her experiment.

“The kernel and piece of chocolate were frozen together,” she said. “It’s really cool that we get the opportunity to do this and that we can get back what we send to space.”

Among Pysher’s 29 students’ experiments, which were flown up to 100,000 feet, some resulted in exploded blueberries and freeze dried marshmallows.

“This is something I would have wanted to do as a kid,” said Pysher. “It’s hands-on science.”

Kyrene de los Cerritos is located at 14620 S. Desert Foothills Parkway.

For more information about the Pongsats program, visit jpaerospace.com/pongsat.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com. Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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