LAKE WALES (FOX 13) - Floyd chalks this up to strong winds on Friday. Little did she expect what would happen next.
"Some of my students were calling me over the weekend. 'Have you heard anything? Do you know anything?' Everybody's really excited to get this back," Floyd said.
This prompted a campaign on Twitter: #SaveNeil. Now, Bok Academy's campus is covered with posters that say #SaveNeil.
"If Neil is still alive, that would be amazing," offered Bok Academy 8th grader Bryan Delgado. "It's funny for a cockroach to get this much attention. If we do find Neil, that would be nice."
Students, staff, and parents all staying optimistic that the weather balloon, and of course Neil, show up again. They're hoping that #SaveNeil is known to people near the Sebastian Inlet.
It was a different twist to a familiar science project for Richele Floyd's class of 16 middle school students from Bok Academy in Lake Wales.
"We attached a roach named Neil to the exterior of the payload to see if he could withstand the atmosphere up there," explained Floyd, a STEM teacher at the school.
For the past two years, Floyd and her students have sent up a weather balloon. This is the first year they decided to send a cockroach up with the balloon. They did it so they could enter their experiment into an international contest, but it took an unexpected turn shortly after the launch this past Friday.
The balloon -- and Neil -- ended up 13 miles off the coast of the Sebastian Inlet in the Atlantic Ocean.
"The past two years it has never gone more than 40 miles from us," Floyd told FOX 13 News. "So, this year, obviously it went a lot further than anticipated."
"Maybe if there's beachgoers or anyone that's in the area fishing, and if they see it, then they actually know what it is and will find a way to get it back to us," Floyd added.
We'll be sure to keep on you updated on the status of Neil on FOX 13 News.