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Houston, we have lift off! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   


What was a small step for man became one giant leap for third graders Thursday, Nov. 18. Duncan Brandt, freshman at the University of Colorado at Boulder, recently launched a hands-on experiment at Holyoke Elementary School, teaching the students all about the science of shooting rockets. After a series of lessons, test runs and lots of trial and error, third graders understood concepts like pressure, chemical reactions, aerodynamics and center of mass.

Third graders in the build group focused on the right balance of canister size and a vinegar/baking soda mixture that would get their rocket off the ground. The design group then created an outer shell for their rockets, remembering the weight, shape and size would all affect their rocket launch. It was exciting for students to see their hard work pay off when two of the five teams launched their rockets about 30 feet into “space.”

Last week’s activity was part of Brandt’s NASA outreach in his independent study this semester. Brandt serves as the lead of the GPS project ALL-STAR with CU’s Space Grant, a nationally funded program for student projects with NASA.

Brandt, pictured at top, demonstrates how to mix the vinegar and baking soda in the rocket. Students are pictured from left, front row, Dalton Hysell and Lauren Bergner; middle row, Victoria Race, Sarah Razo and Alexis Vega-Llanas (hidden); and back row, Jacqueline Valenzuela, Lane Guthrie, Alondra Valles and Lali Marquez.

Lali Marquez, pictured above left, works quickly to seal in her mixture before it bubbles out of her rocket canister. Design team students Kevin Conde, Nain Vasquez, Shianne Willmon and Victor Baeza, pictured at right, discuss the plans for their rocket design.

—Enterprise photos