Inquiry Thinking We Can All Use

Kimberly Yeung, 8, and Rebecca Yeung, 10, came to national attention (and NASA’s) in September when they designed and built a weather balloon and launched it into space from Moses Lake, Washington.

According to GeekWire reporter James Risley, Kimberly and Rebecca Yeung built their spacecraft out of wood and broken arrow shafts, but it flew twice as high as commercial aircraft usually travel. Attached to a helium filled weather balloon was a flight computer tracking their craft, two GoPro cameras, and a picture of their cat next to a Lego R2-D2. Called the Loki Lego Launcher, the craft was named after the cat and the figurine.

Risley covered their story and shares the video of the balloon’s flight in GeekWire to provide some real innovation lessons. Here is a screenshot of what the balloon saw as it ascended over 78,000 feet:

Courtesy of Winston Yeung
Courtesy of Winston Yeung

For those of you who might be wondering, no people or animals were harmed in the making of this video. According to Risley, 1,600 weather balloons are launched daily and there have been no reported collisions in the NTSB records.

Kimberly and Rebecca Yeung safely recovered the balloon with its camera in a farmer’s field, miles away from where they’d expected it to land.

“We were very lucky because our spacecraft landed right by a huge pile of cow poop, but it didn’t land in it,” Rebecca commented.

Why I Like This Innovation

Courtesy of Winston Yeung
Courtesy of Winston Yeung

This is not the first weather balloon to be deployed into space. What’s exciting for me is that this balloon was planned and launched by kids—admittedly with a lot of help from their father, High Altitude Science, and Home Depot—and provided innovation lessons for us all.

Yes, there are a few other examples of children sending science fair projects into the stratosphere, including one girl who sent her Hello Kitty into space.

But Kimberly and Rebecca Yeung did it with such precision. They aimed high. They planned. They built. They adapted. They persevered. They measured their results. And they captured their lessons learned—I love this:

Innovation Lessons Learned and Plannned

This story reminds me of an important lesson: we are all capable of more than we think.

Key Innovation Takeaways

Give your people the opportunity to practice on innovations before they’re “ready.”

Use inquiry thinking: experiment, learn, repeat.

And set your sights high. Even if your plans don’t take you into outer space.

What innovations have inspired you lately? Feel free to comment and share these innovation lessons with any organization looking to improve their innovation capabilities.