It almost goes without saying that the greatest gift you can give a kid is the gift of learning through adventure. One father recently decided to give his four-year-old son such a treat by sending his favorite toy train to the very edge of space and back again.
Motion graphics designer Ron Fugelseth took his son's toy train "Stanley" and attached it to a 2-pound weather balloon rig with an on-board camera. The balloon took an hour to reach the stratosphere, a trip we've seen before, but in this case Fugelseth animated the train's face with After Effects and Photoshop for dramatic effect, giving it life as it reacts to the dynamics of the journey. When the balloon pops at the apex of its ascent, Stanley's expression is comical (and just a bit sad). That little touch makes the recovery of the toy in a cornfield by Fugelseth's son all the more heartwarming.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this video is that its creator isn't a space or airplane enthusiast with any particular expertise. Fugelseth says, "all I did to plan for this was Google 'weather balloon in space plans' and pieced it together from there." You can see the flight launch and landing in the video below.