Puffed up: Lessons balloon at Clark School

Clark Elementary School provided a truly awesome spectacle when Rick Behr and his Bear Balloon Corporation inflated their famous Boar's Head balloon at the school for students already into their second week of classes. The action was intense and even a little surreal, but Behr kept everything in line at the August 30 event.

With the basket tilted on its side, Behr and his crew began the inflation with a large electric fan. After the chamber inside expanded enough, Behr jumped in the basket and hit the gas burners like a WWII fighter pilot shooting down enemy aircraft.

The huge burst of flame garnered big applause as the balloon lurched upward. After much tilting and swinging– and with a little help from Clark teachers holding a support line– Behr successfully raised the balloon in a space that seemed too small to hold it.

Children approached the balloon to study this scientific wonder up close. (I could almost hear the lesson plans being drafted in the teachers' heads.)

After a while, Behr gently brought the balloon down and the chamber deflated, falling to earth like an oversized blanket tossed over a sleeping child. Fourth graders were allowed to help put the balloon back into its carrying sack, and everyone went back to class in a pretty good mood.

The filling is just air.

Add heat, but don't burn the edges.

Tip the balloon back and forth.

Add some teachers for ballast.

Viola! The balloon now hovers on its own.

To collapse, simply remove the heat.

Form a line and return the balloon where it came from. Tomorrow's lesson: "How boats float"