There were exclamations of excitement, wonder and even nervousness as local pupils experienced a hot air balloon coming to life and taking to the air on their school field.
Glenholme School had an exciting visit from Kiwi hot air balloon pilot entrepreneur Andrew Parker today.
He has launched a "Flying High" project and Glenholme School is one of 32 kura throughout New Zealand to be chosen after expressing interest.
Twenty-eight of the school's tamariki had the opportunity to fly in a tethered (tied to the ground) hot air balloon with Parker, experiencing the school and its surroundings from new heights.
Parker then gave a lesson to the senior classes, which is one of a series of lessons that has been developed and planned with the help of educationalists, which incorporate the NZ curriculum.
The Flying High project aims to promote the importance of education, innovation and sustainability to Years 5-10 students at low-decile and rural schools around New Zealand.
Kahu Wineera-Ryder, 10, was one of the lucky pupils to experience going in the hot air balloon.
She said she was scared because she had never been in one before and she was scared of heights.
"But when I got up there I was pretty excited. It went higher than I expected."
She said when she first saw the hot air balloon start up with the burst of flames she got all excited but kept saying, "I'm scared, I'm scared".
Layla Thompson, 9, said she liked seeing the surrounding area from up in the hot air balloon and how cool it looked because she had never seen it from up high.
"It was pretty cool. When I got in it was a burst of warmth from the fire."
Andrew Parker is the former owner of the Hamilton-based Kiwi Balloon Company and the director and visionary behind the global Flying High For Kids (FHFK) not-for-profit project.
FHFK combined Parker's passion for flying and desire to highlight the importance of accessible education for children around the world.
His five-year adventure began in 2014, and by 2019 he had flown his balloon at schools and events in 87 countries, many of them in developing nations.
Working with various international children's organisations such as Unicef, he reached more than 60,000 children, achieved international media coverage, and became No 1 on Lonely Planet's "Epic Journeys around the World 2017".
Parker's new Kiwi-based project follows a similar theme.
He hoped to use his hot air balloon and educational activities as an interactive way for children to create a personal connection between careers and STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), to inspire and empower them to join the next generation of sustainable innovators.
"The New Zealand Government has identified STEAM subjects as being important for the future of the country and it's predicted that almost all future jobs will require some STEAM knowledge," said Parker.
"However Māori, Pasifika and rural schools, in particular, are under-represented in the uptake of STEAM careers.
"Making learning more accessible and creating pathways for future job security are key to changing that dynamic, so I wanted to see how I could use my skills and experience to help.
"My career choices have been unconventional but sustainable innovation and STEAM learning has really helped me.
"I've followed my childhood dream and worked hard to make it a reality so I'm hoping I can encourage others to do so too."
To help guide the project and develop a wrap-around programme to increase STEAM uptake in low-decile and rural schools, Parker formed a trust and brought in six board members to seek their expertise in Mātauranga Māori, environment, education, science and finance.
"I love getting kids to think creatively about environmentally sustainable living and how they can be part of the solution.
"My research into making a hot air balloon more sustainable starts a conversation about personal changes they can make in their everyday lives, and ends up talking about the activities they love the most and what they might like to do as a future career."
For more information about Parker, the project and the schools involved, go to www.flyinghighproject.com or the Flying High Project NZ Facebook page.