Cravens, Estes, and Foust students have built rockets modifying their designs in recent weeks as part of their teachers’ partnership with the Western Kentucky University SKyTeach program. Julie Carwile (Cravens), Lauren Coomes (Estes), and Olivia Owen (Foust) attended the WKU SKyTeach rocketry workshop this fall and were provided materials (PVC pipe and air compressors) to build rocket launcher. They came back to their classes with lessons on rocketry that incorporate all the elements of aerodynamics. Lessons incorporate studies about kinetic and potential energy, inertia, gravitational pull, force, motion, air resistance, and other factors of flight.
On Oct. 25, a student or team from each school whose rocket performs the best in school competition will take their rockets to WKU’s Center for Research and Development Facility/Aviation Heritage Park in Bowling Green to compete in STEMshot!
Cravens Elementary School 4th Graders have been building rockets from paper and foam. Ms. Carwile’s science students researched their designs and have been making improvements after test firings. Students have eagerly made modifications as they try to gain flight time that the rockets stay in the air. Cravens students will be competitively testing their rockets as they shoot them off at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 20. The student whose rocket performs best will earn the opportunity to participate in the competition at WKU.
At Estes Elementary School, Ms. Coomes’s 4th grade students are working in teams and are choosing team names based on their research. For example, one group is the “Wright GIRLS” and they are researching the Wright Brothers and how they were successful in flight. Students are working on engineering standards in science with the design process. They are creating six rockets and testing their designs then making improvements. In math, they are using measurement and data standards as they measure the length and width of their rockets. They also have to weigh the rockets and ensure that they do not exceed a maximum weight. The Estes teams will compete on Tuesday (tentatively) at 1:30 p.m. on the Estes lawn and the team that scores the highest on the competition rubric will compete in Bowling Green competition.
Foust Elementary students in Olivia Owen’s after-school Rocket Club are also creating rockets for competition and often test them in the courtyard where a much larger rocket stands as the school “mascot” since they are the Foust Rockets. Teams first designed rockets of various lengths ranging from 13 to 25 inches. They launched the rockets, timed how long they stayed in the air, and recorded results. They analyzed the results and agreed that a 22-inch rocket would be best to use to maximize flight time. Then, each team built a 22-inch rocket with five different fins and studied results. Finally, they will test the factor that mass plays in maximizing flight time. The three Foust teams will launch their “dream rockets” Monday at 3 p.m. to determine which team travels to Bowling Green.
The WKU competition in compressed air rocketry gives students the opportunity to engage in a challenging real-world problem based activity. Fourth grade through high school teams will participate in two different competitions. In one, participants will demonstrate their ability to work with multiple variables (launch angle, air pressure, rocket length & mass) to predict the performance of a rocket of their own design. The second competition will have students vying to launch a rocket with a single goal of having the longest flight time. The STEMshot! initiative is a collaborative effort between Western Kentucky University’s Department of Engineering & SKyTeach program and the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC).