Back in November, the students built the rockets using kits provided by the ACE program. Because of scheduling conflicts and inclement weather, the rockets could not be launched until the last weekend in February.
The rockets were prepared for launch by placing wadding and an engine inside the base of the rockets. A launch pad with a remote ignition device was set up on the track at the Pawnee campus. In order to record the height attained by the rockets, two students equipped with altitude finders were stationed 150 meters away from the launch pad.
When all preparations were in place the first rocket was launched. Noelia Camacho, a first-grade student at Pawnee, was in charge of the countdown each time. Ten, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blastoff! With a loud “whoosh” the rockets shot upward at an amazing speed. After reaching the apogee, or highest point, the parachute deployed to slow the rocket’s descent.
Again and again the rockets were launched, and after each launch the young rocketeers raced to retrieve the rockets which, pushed by the gentle morning breeze, sometimes drifted completely across campus. A few minutes later, they returned to the launch site proudly bearing their wayward prizes, which they got to take home that day.
Students learned how to use an altitude finder which uses principles of trigonometry to calculate the height of the apogee. The height of a right triangle can be found if one knows the base (150 meters in this case) and the angle at which the hypotenuse meets the base. The altitude finders have a built in protractor that records this angle, and there is also a key that does the calculations for the user.
Students were assisted by ACE facilitators Mary Ann Zamora, Klaryssa Escamilla and Kathy Naylor.
The next rocket launch will occur during the next regular meeting of the Saturday Science Club.