Branch Elementary School students watched from the playground as their rockets soared in the school’s second annual Rocket Challenge May 28.
Each of the 4th-6th grade classes received a Big Daddy Rocket Kit and spent around two weeks working on it.
Within each class, students were assigned to teams, t-shirt design, banner decorating, rocket design and the pit crew, which helped with any additional tasks. Mentors are invited to teach the students how to build their rockets.
“They have to build a rocket, which entails absolute precision fin alignment. The fins have to be sanded down to almost perfection,” said Kim Cantrell, Branch Elementary School teacher.
The mentors in her class taught the students to follow the mantra, “If you think you’re done, do it again.” The lesson was that the rocket can continually be improved.
Throughout the process, the students learned about Newton’s Laws of physics and materials like different†types of glue. They also learn to be “really careful” because the whole class is depending on each individual to put together a rocket that will be able to sustain flight.
When the rocket is complete, it’s primed and ready for competition.
The first day of competition, judges evaluate the banners and rocket integration.
“We have judges that sit down and scrutinize if the fins are at 90 degrees all the way around and they fill out a paper and comment,” said Cantrell.
The second day of competition is the rocket launch. Col. Robby Weaver, 412th Maintenance Group commander,†and his launch crew supported the event by preparing the rockets and launching them. Altitude trackers are used to verify the altitude reached by each rocket, from two locations. After launching, a chute deploys allowing the rocket to float down gently.
Branch Elementary first became involved in the Rocket Challenge two years ago at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif. Their invitation came with a “hope” that Branch would in turn start their own competition. Next year, the school hopes to expand their event by inviting Boron Elementary School to participate in the competition.
During an intermission, students from Cantrell’s class presented Mickey Bowen, with his own rocket. Cantrell credits Bowen for getting the school involved in the rocket event during his time as the 412th Test Wing STEM Outreach coordinator.
“He was the one who got us the invitation the first time to Mojave and these are his altitude trackers,” said Cantrell. “We’re trying to have them get excited about math and science. This is the time we can allow kids to have some freedom to show their creativity.”
Branch Elementary Second Annual Rocket Challenge Winners:
1st place over all – Mrs. Piper’s FOX 2 -“In Thrust We Trust!”
2nd place overall – Ms. Berglund, the Furious Flying French Fries, “We Fly So High, We Burn Carbs!”
3rd place overall – Mrs. Davis, Branch Blasters, “Red, White and Blue, We’re Going to the Moon”