SMPA students have been participating in a combination of classroom, hands-on, and virtual sessions to learn about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through Students To Launch (S2L). A group from S2L , led by Commander Josh, came to our school to lead our 7th and 8th grade students in a rocket building experiment.
Students were split into seven groups to build rockets from scratch that they would then later launch to see how high each rocket flew as compared to their hypotheses. Each student on the four-person team received a badge with their team member job title: Data Analyst, Project Manager, Engineer or Scientist. Whichever title they received meant they had to do the work for that specific job as outlined in the “Team Binder”. The binder held all of the building instructions for the project as well as detailed job responsibilities.
The Rockets were built using two-liter soda bottles carefully following the instructions in the binder. Students learned that they had to be mindful of the direction they put the fins on their rocket because that determined which direction it would go when it was launched. They learned that how much “fuel” (water) they put into the rocket also determined how high it would go. And they had to think about how much pressure (pumps) would be needed to launch their rockets.
“It’s very fun to make rockets,” said Denim, Class of 2031. “I learned that the wings need to be at a specific angle for it to go in a specific direction. It was hard figuring out how much water pressure you need for the rockets to go further and I had to put more glue on the fins because they fell off once.”
Each team named their rockets and predicted how high their rocket would go when launched. SMPA Principal, Dr. Kelly O’Leary, also had to build a rocket to enter in the competition.
After all the rockets were assembled, the 7th and 8th graders brought their rocket to the launch site at Sacred Heart Academy’s field and, carefully following instructions from Commander Josh, took turns pressurizing their “fuel” through using an air pump connected to a special launching pad. Once the pressure gauge read 60lbs, we were ready to launch!
Everyone counted down together – five, four, three, two, one – and then a designated member of each team pulled the cord to launch the rocket.
An altimeter attached to the rocket measured how high up their rockets went. Students clapped, cheered and shouted at their rockets as they soared into the sky, encouraging them to stay intact, fly straight and fly the highest. Some went straight up, rising higher and higher into the blue sky. Some catapulted left or right but all of the rockets had successful launches and landings (only one wing came off upon impact.)
The students could see in real life how their construction choices and quality of construction affected how high and how straight their rockets ultimately flew.
The winning group was Team SpongeBob, comprised of Denim, Class of 2031, Betsy, Class of 2031, Michael, Class of 2032, and Kamal, Class of 2032. When asked about the success of their rocket launch,
Denim said, “I think our rocket went the highest because we measured it properly, and we also had a nice amount of water in the rocket so it didn’t go too low, and we did the exact amount of pressure that we needed to. I think it would be fun to build rockets!”