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Beacon Heights Rockets

Beacon Heights 2nd grade students took on an engineering project at the end of the school year to create the most aerodynamic rocket, using card stock, scissors, and tape. Nate Carlson, an engineer with Northrop Grumman, came to help and teach the students about engineering principles with the Rocket Outreach Program.

Carlson said, “The Rocket Outreach program is great because it's a fun, simple, and educational way for kids to creatively learn and exercise a few basic engineering principles: brainstorming, designing, manufacturing, peer discussion, modifying, and retesting.”

Students were equipped with cardstock and duct tape and received the assignment to make something aerodynamic. Student experimented with different folds of duct tape and various wings on the outer rocket.  

After 30 minutes of creating, students brought their classroom-made rockets out to two air compressor machines on the playground. With two machines setup, the students were able to compare to see which rocket went the highest.  After determining that which rocket was more aerodynamic. The students went back to the classroom to make improvements.

Students compared the rockets side by side, analyzing shapes and dimensions of their classroom-made rockets. After which they decided to make the rockets better, more tightly rolled or with more wind resistant wings.

Some students took on the challenge and made successful improvements to their rockets, while others made improvements that made their rockets less aerodynamic.  

Carlson said, “This program is a great way for kids to learn that you don’t always need to be successful on your first try. Sometimes our ideas don’t work out and we have to make them better. I think it’s good that kids learn this so they understand that learning is more about the process than the outcome.”

One student, Emily Hunsaker, did just that. One her first few attempts her rocket didn’t go quite as high as some of the other students. After making improvements, her rocket was the most aerodynamic and went the highest in the class. She said the project was so much fun, it made her want to be an engineer.

Author: Amber Callister, Beacon Heights Elementary School

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