Gateway: Living

Vaughn Elementary students have a blast learning about rockets

Nearly obscured by the smoke of their sky-bound Alpha rockets, from left, Vaughn fifth-graders Ethan Adams, Daniel Lacrosse and Van Houser watch their birds take to the sky after pressing their individual launch buttons.
Nearly obscured by the smoke of their sky-bound Alpha rockets, from left, Vaughn fifth-graders Ethan Adams, Daniel Lacrosse and Van Houser watch their birds take to the sky after pressing their individual launch buttons. Special to the Gateway

A couple weeks ago, Vaughn Elementary teachers Carolyn Russell, Heidi Heistand and Doug Smith and 73 fifth-graders launched Alpha rockets into the blue from the school playground.

“We have spent time researching rockets, learning about how rockets move and their history,” Smith said. “We also learned about rocket parts as we carefully assembled them over two weeks. It was a successful endeavor as every rocket launched and most rockets were recovered.”

Fifth-grader Desiree Mick-Hager says, “The best part of rockets is getting to launch and catch your rockets. It’s so exciting you get butterflies in your stomach and you just feel so happy! I liked it when my rocket twirled and did front flips in the air like a gymnast.”

Occasional wind shifts took some of the missiles out of the launch area and into the trees, or made them otherwise inaccessible. Despite warnings of rain, which would have canceled the project, skies were dry.

Student Kateh Flores “liked that I could make it myself. I also liked the colors that were on it.”

Classmate Nicole Manning “liked watching the rockets shoot up into the air. It was really cool. They would shoot up into the sky and up into the clouds where the sun would block our view of them. When they came down, some formed shapes like triangles or circles.”

“The best thing I learned is that they’re easy and fast to build,” said Josiah Smith. “Another thing I learned: Rockets are unpredictable and go fast.”

For Noah Romero, the best thing about the rockets was naming them. “My rocket’s name was Apollo #2. The second best thing is watching them sail away. I learned how rockets move.”

Coleton Valencia feels that the best part of rockets was catching them. Maris Johnson’s favorite part was “when we named our rockets. I named mine The Pluto 7. I also liked choosing the colors; mine were crimson and gray. GO COUGS! I also liked launching them, even though mine didn’t go the first time, but then went over the fence. The important thing was that I got it back.”

Taylor Davis liked that you could name your rocket anything you want. “I named my rocket Major Tom,” he said. “Another thing I liked was building it.”

Samantha Jones thought learning about rockets is exciting. “When rockets launched, they left a trail of smoke.”

Chloe Bunce was “shaking before I pressed the big red button. We were counting down ‘5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!’ I ran, not knowing where it was. Then I ran after it. It was like chasing a bird.”

Tanner Karabinos thinks “rockets are really cool! At the rocket launch we each got to press the button to launch and it was very exhilarating! I learned that rockets are very unpredictable and have a kind of JAZZ when they go up.”

Anne Shipp, who liked putting together the rockets, also liked the fact that the whole fifth grade class did rockets. “We did them because it is a tradition and it’s fun putting them together. It makes us follow directions. We made them by gluing the parts together. I learned the parts of a rocket and about the history of rockets. The first to make rockets were the Greeks.”

As Mohammed Ali would say, “I didn’t know that!”

Zebedee Leo Smolko thinks rockets have been so fun this year from seeing it in the package to pushing the button to make it soar.

“I loved picking out the rocket colors to spray paint it,” she said. “Mine’s black and pink.”

Emily Price “chose the best colors in the world: purple and gold. The sad part was when I learned that if you pack the rocket’s parachute too tight it will not come out or unfold.”

And it didn’t. Emily’s “bird” made it down the hard way.

Colleague Maris Johnson summarizes by stating: “Long story short: Rockets were super fun and very interesting to build and launch.”

And I wouldn’t miss the annual “shoot” for the world!

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at hughmcm26@gmail.com.

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