Rocket Science

The government shutdown may have grounded NASA, but that doesn’t mean rockets aren’t flying.

The building and launching of model rockets at Beaty is an interdisciplinary event, combining science, math, writing skills and even physics.

They take measurements from a mechanical drawing, then reproduce the drawing trying to match the angles. Afterwards, they will write a informational paper on how to build a rocket. They study Newton’s Laws of Motion, and how they apply to their rockets.

The students build their choice of rockets, including Big Bertha, Guardian and Alpha models, paint them and launch them to determine how weight and design affect speeds. Teachers use radar guns to clock speeds, and record the data for future studies.

Warren native John Mangus was a physicist at NASA working on the Hubble Space Telescope and now is a consultant for the James Webb Space Telescope. He said he has been working on the rocket program with Beaty students “ever since I got back about 19 years ago.”

Carolyn Yurich, a science teacher at Beaty noted that she invites Mangus to come back later in the school year for a formal presentation on the space telescopes.

She added that launching the rockets was also a confidence builder, especially for some of the girls who were unsure about pressing the launch button.

Yurich said the rocket day program started as a gifted program, but grew into a whole school event with all students participating in teams. “We decided to make a day of it,” she added.