By: Bidemi Oladiran (AmeriCorps VISTA)
The Harford Hills elementary after-school STEM program continued on March 1st, 2016. The third lesson continued with topics on science and engineering taught by the 4-H team. The third lesson encouraged students to design their own rockets and accurately aim it at a target. The premise of the project was to provide food to an island that has been damaged by a storm. The students first went through what’s necessary to build a successful rocket and what rockets are sometimes used for. The students’ responses ranged from “sending people out to space” to “carrying different things.” Not knowing a lot about rockets, I first thought rockets were mostly used to send people to space. But the NASA website explains that rockets have more than purpose. NASA explains that a rocket isn’t just a “tall, thin, round vehicle that launches people to space, a rocket can mean a type of engine or it can mean a type of vehicle that uses that engine.”
In the Rockets to the Rescue lesson, students also went through the parts of a rocket. They learned that the parts consist of a tail, a body/fuselage and the nose, which is sometimes where people or packages would the placed. The students split up in teams of three and designed their own rockets by using various types of paper strengths and designing the rocket around a piece of PVC pipe. The students used various duct tape designs to decorate and keep their rockets intact. The PVC pipe was used mainly to get the body of the rocket accurate. The students also used various construction papers to build the tails of their rockets. After the students designed their rockets, they launched it hoping it would make it to the island, which was a plastic container. In order to launch the rockets, the fuel used was air, plastic bottles were attached to the PVC pipe and then the students got to stump on the plastic bottles releasing the air that would then launch the rockets.
Most of the students were successful in getting their rockets to go the distance; however none of the students were able to get their rockets to land on the “island.” The students learned that designing rockets for the sake of accuracy can sometimes be difficult, but they still enjoyed their success in building their rockets.