Elementary school teachers Kim Cantrell, grade 6, and Michelle McCormack, grade 5, shared their experiences with the Mojave Intermediate Space Challenge on Aerotech NewsRadio June 7.
ISC is an annual event for students in grades four through six, hosted at the Mojave Air and Space Port to â€œinspireâ€ students in Science, Technology and Math. For Cantrell and McCormack, the rocket-launch event was a new experience.
According to Cantrell, the event started eight years ago as the â€œbrain-childâ€ of Marie Walker, CEO of Fiberset. The event originally included only the Mojave Unified District schools and was later â€œgraciously extendedâ€ to include outside districts that have shown interest in adopting the event.
Each participating class is expected to complete a certain number of tasks, operating like a business. The class is provided with a kit to build a rocket, to be launched on the day of the competition. Students were also expected to create a banner that complemented the paint scheme of the rocket, as well as come up with a slogan and answer an essay question.
McCormack said that it took about three weeks to get the whole class to finish the project as a team. Cantrell added that it took â€œlonger than we anticipated.â€ The teachers agreed, however that the outcome was â€œinspirational.â€
Cantrell also shared that schools from the Mojave Unified District have high school mentors come alongside to help the elementary school participants, but the Branch Elementary students â€œdidnâ€™t have that luxury.â€ Cantrell and McCormack â€œscrambledâ€ to find assistance because neither educator had built a rocket before. Cantrell was able to recruit help from one of her former students and Paul Zuttarelli, â€œa true rocket scientistâ€ to help with the project. She added that her class was then able to help McCormacks class with their rocket.
McCormack was also able to recruit help from her husband Mike and said that it was a â€œteam effort … turned into almost a family effort.â€
On the day of the competition, both classes placed first in various categories including Altitude for Visiting Schools, Banner Design and Integration, and Essays. Cantrell recalled that during the rocket launch â€œIt was thrilling to see [the rocket] go straight up.â€ McCormack added that watching the class come together and celebrate their victories together was â€œwonderful.â€
â€œTheir feet didnâ€™t touch the ground for the rest of the school year,â€ said Cantrell. The students are already planning ahead for next yearâ€™s competition and the younger grades canâ€™t wait to have their turn.
To hear the full broadcast, visit our radio page here. Aerotech NewsRadio is a weekly program broadcasting on Thursday mornings at 11a.m. Tune into 1380AM to hear the show live.