Students experiment with aerodynamics in model rocket competition
May 19, 2012
There was an air of excitement and anticipation as 38 teams gathered Friday afternoon on the Moffat County High School practice football field for a rocket launch competition.
Dozens more joined their classmates for the seventh-period contest, taking seats on the north hill to watch the action.
But, the MCHS science department's spring Science Olympic event, "Rockin’ Rockets," got off to a slow start.
Kylee Gorringe was the first student on the launch pad.
After installing the engine, wadding and igniter, Gorringe attached the battery powered launch system and took a few steps back.
MCHS science teacher Amber Clark started the countdown, but when Gorringe hit the launch button nothing happened. "Houston, we have a problem," Clark said.
Teachers and students alike began tinkering with the igniters and system connections, and swapped batteries in and out of the launch system.
After the final bell rang, Gorringe pressed the launch button again.
This time the rocket took off, flying hundreds of feet into the air.
Students were on their feet, jockeying for a place in line, anxious to shoot their rockets into orbit. Within minutes, rockets were flying in rapid succession.
Some floated safely back down to the field from deployed parachutes, while others got caught in the breeze and came to rest on the MCHS roof.
Stephanie Harvey, another MCHS science teacher, tested the largest rocket of the fleet.
No one thought her 4-feet tall rocket would get off the ground, but when she pressed the launch button it flew faster, farther and higher than any other of the day.
It was later recovered about a quarter mile north of the school's rear entrance.
Although the rocket competition was more about getting outside, having fun and enjoying the last Friday afternoon of the school year, many students took advantage of the opportunity to experiment with aerodynamics through wing placement, design and weight.
"I know a lot of these kids had never built a model rocket before, so it was an experience for them to put it together to see if it would work or not," MCHS science teacher Heather Fross said. "And there were some kids who built the model rocket differently than what the instructions called for — modifying the wing patterns and adding parts — just to see how it would fly. So that was cool to see."
Each student stayed until the last rocket was launched, even though the school day was over and some students missed their rides home.
"I'm really impressed with the turnout," Fross said. "It was great to see so many kids out here on a Friday afternoon after school hanging out. It was a lot of fun."
Students in the advanced science topics program were required to participate in Friday's rocket launch competition, but the event was also open to all students and each grade was evenly represented, Fross said.
Students were invited to compete individually or pair up into two-person teams.
Awards were presented for highest-flying rocket, best launch, best overall design, most creative design and epic disaster. Freshman Kaleb Bugay was one of the last students to leave the football field Friday afternoon.
He won best overall design.
"It was awesome. I encourage other kids to come try it," Bugay said. "It beats sitting inside playing video games."
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