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Elementary students learn rocketry first-hand


May 26, 2018

Larry LaCom

Laura Lundberg holds a portion of one of the model rockets the students will put together.

One of the great benefits of being a school kid in Tehachapi is the presence of so many dedicated volunteers from aerospace, aviation, engineering and related fields. These volunteers regularly present programs where students can gain hands-on experience and learn about subjects where career opportunities abound.

Enter AST, the Arts, Science and Technology Educational Corporation of Tehachapi, and the program they have brought to the schools, the Intermediate Space Challenge. This is a program where adults knowledgeable in the field of model rocketry teach kids about the science and technology involved, and provide rocket kits for the students in 4th and 5th grades to build themselves.

I attended the ISC (Intermediate Space Challenge) presentation at Golden Hills Elementary School on May 10 in the school cafeteria where 4th graders assembled for a presentation and were given their rocket kits, one per class. Nick Altieri and Laura Lundberg of AST showed a slide presentation and explained some of the principles of model rocketry, explained some of the physics involved, and showed movies of successful (and spectacularly unsuccessful) rocket launches, which the kids seemed to enjoy immensely.

Larry LaCom

THEMA (Tehachapi High Engineering and Math Academy) student Jacob Jaster helps the 4th graders build their model rocket.

The main assembly broke up into individual classrooms where students began putting their rockets together with the assistance of Tehachapi High School students involved in the THEMA (Tehachapi High Engineering and Math Academy) program. The presence of these high-schoolers inspired the 4th-graders to see that when they become older, they too can begin helping younger kids learn valuable skills and gain important knowledge that will be beneficial for them.

Not only do these kids get to build a rocket (about 12-18" high by my estimation), but they get to be present when their rockets are launched at an upcoming event at Tehachapi Airport. The students' rockets will be propelled by a 3-stage solid fuel rocket engine. Successfully-made rockets will attain an altitude of up to 650 feet before the nose cone pops off and deploys a parachute for its soft landing back on earth. Stay tuned for a report on the launch event.


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