Coast FM Mandurah blasts school into space history

A West Australian Primary School launches into ‘near space’ in 97.3 Coast FM competition.

In a radio promotional first, Pinjarra Primary School launched itself into ‘near space’ history today after winning a competition on Mandurah’s 97.3 Coast FM.

To coincide with this week’s anniversary of man first walking on the moon and also Science week, all schools in the Coast FM listening area were invited to nominate themselves for the chance to send an object into space… not of a space rocket, but a weather balloon.

The winning school would become the launch pad for the balloon, destined to blast approximately 30km into the stratosphere. A $1,000 cash prize was also on offer.

It was a great promotion for the station, generating excellent community response. Year One teacher Tracey Keeler has told radioinfo how she got her school’s community mobilized to win the competiton:

“The competition ran for approx 4 weeks. I nominated the school during the school holidays and sent an email to staff and parents in my current class. I then set about starting up a face book event, where I invited friends and family members, and then they too could invite others. Within a few days there were over 200 followers and well over 1000 people had been invited to the event, making the exposure to the competition bigger than we could ever get with the school newsletter alone. Pinjarra Primary School won hands down with 48% of the total votes.

“This competition has really bought home the community spirit and atmosphere here in Pinjarra. With regular prompting and reminding on face book, emails, newsletters and within school memos, there was a committed army of staff, parents and community members religiously voting every day for our awesome school…

“On the morning of the announcement of the winning school, even the school bus drivers had their radios turned up louder to hear which school had won.”


14 local schools nominated for the right to launch the near space weather balloon from their school grounds. The balloon was named by the students of Pinjarra Primary School, and contained an object selected by the students as their ‘N.S.O.’ or Near Space Object. What was the object? A Lego space man.

The baloon contained GPS tracking equipment and a High Definition camera to capture its journey. It was tracked at the school by teachers and students, who monitored the flight and its landing location, assisted by the staff from Coast FM.

The launch all took place this morning at Sir Ross McLarty Oval in Pinjarra, with two students assisting n the launch team and all students invited to watch. A $1000 cheque presentation from Harvey Norman Mandurah was also made during the promotion.

Earl Pilkington, spokesperson for the Coast FM Near Space Program said: “[It will ascend] approximately 4 times the height of Mount Everest, and above where airliners fly, but below orbiting satellites, so the footage should be incredible.”

Flight time could be up to 3 hours depending upon winds. This is an experiment, we will have to wait and see how long the flight goes for.

When the launch vehicle returned to earth it was retrieved by the Coast FM recovery crew.


To see the video of the trip, click below or visit our Facebook page.