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Vaughn Elementary students have a blast while learning about rockets

It all but killed me to miss the annual rocket launch at Vaughn Elementary. Fortunately, the program’s creator and director, teacher Doug Smith, saved the day. Teacher Matthew Mills, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math teacher who won a grant for a GoPro Camera, which takes a burst of 30 shots per second, covered it.

“We had a great launch,” Smith said.

Vaughn’s fifth grade Rocket Club’s 32 students in Smith’s and Carolyn Russell’s classes launched “Big Bertha” rockets, and many students ran and caught them as, at maximum altitude, their parachutes opened and the vehicles drifted back to earth.

“This was special,” said Smith. “Laird Young, a dad of one of my previous students, made a rocket launcher to improve students’ experiences. Before, when the students launched together, they had to push the same button. With Laird’s launcher each student had (his/her) own button to push.

“At 30 shots a second we caught pictures of rockets taking off, and were also able to take movies and slow down rocket movements to catch all the action,” said Smith. “We’ll check how fast rockets move by seeing how far they go in 1/30th-second intervals.”

Danny Anderson felt “the day was cold, very cloudy and it was a while until my group was up to launch. Parents put the engines in our rockets and Mr. Smith put the rockets on the launching poles. Then everyone started counting. Whoosh! Gage Gehrke’s, Christian Stephen’s and my rockets flew into the air.”

Vaughn’s lower field was misty and cloudy when students Sierra Schurosky, Cierra Clapp and Hailee Hutton walked up to the launch pad.

“My rocket was gold,” Hailee said. “Sierra’s was gold and Cierra’s was purple. At countdown ... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... blast off! My rocket went up, put its parachute out and in a few seconds came down.”

Maddy Varner thought, “This is the best because you get to push your own button.” She learned that “if you cut a hole in the parachute it will come down faster and your rocket avoids the trees.”

Alyssa Singer thinks the best thing about rockets is watching them fly. “Rockets need parachutes to make sure they don’t fall too fast.”

Gage Gehrke feels “rockets are amazing. The best thing is it gives you a thrill running and catching your rocket.” To Christian Stephens, “the best thing is you get to see flames and smoke at the same time.”

“When we counted down and then launched, catching the rockets was the best thing,” Caleb Plummer said. “Aubrey Stanton, Victor Potts and I launched together. Aubrey and I just put out one hand and caught our rockets but Victor’s had a broken fin and it landed behind the fence. This was a fun activity at the end of the (school) year.”

To Madalyn Wright, the best thing was “seeing people’s faces when they catch their rockets, a happy thing.” Paige Ohrt also liked catching the rockets. “You have to run after it, and it is just so cool watching it come down because you have to see where it is going to go.”

To Cayla McDermott and Hailie Brown, “it was best because this year we got to push the button by ourselves and got to launch them with our friends.” Abby Poston enjoyed the fact “you watch it fly through the air and leave a smoke trail through the sky. It was fun to see people launch, too, because you never knew where your rocket or your friend’s rocket would land.”

Now you know “the rest of the story.”

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