Beaty students attempt to send rockets to a galaxy far, far away

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm Eddie Johnson and Matthew Sowa chose to dress as cows for the occasion. The pair counted down to lift off with the help of April Tharp. Their launch was udderly successful.

Last year on a chilly overcast October Friday Tristan Shepherd and his seventh-grade friends and classmates sat inside the school waiting for their turn. This chilly overcast Friday that turn came– it was Rocket Day — “The best thing ever,” Shepherd and his friends proclaimed.

Friday was Rocket Day for approximately 156 Beaty Warren Middle School eighth-graders. It’s the annual day when weeks of classroom preparation leads to launching of projectiles into the sky above Beaty Park and sometimes into the creek or onto a roof.

The occasion includes a tradition of team names and interesting attire. The fashion statements of the day included cows, unicorns, sharks, holiday characters, chefs and Eeyores.

As the bells tolled the noon hour, the crowd of students and onlookers counted down, “Three, two, one” hopefully followed by a hiss and a puff of “rocket smoke.”

Prior to the many group countdowns and the straining of necks to see which way the rockets went, the students have to wire the rocket up to the launch pad just perfectly. Before launch day, students spent several weeks in the classroom designing and creating their rockets and parachutes. Once the students arrived at the field they had to make the ignitor, hook it up properly and push buttons in succession to complete their mission.

Attire is casual for students taking part in Rocket Day as some choose what might be considered pajamas. Safety glasses are required.

Friday’s hands-on assignment was obviously fun but there’s some learning involved. The teacher’s mission is to have the students apply Newton’s Laws of Motion by launching the Alpha model rocket. Students apply aerodynamic and aerospace propulsion concepts in practical applications.

Tristan Shepherd got a couple of chances to be part of a launch. Shepherd said he wasn’t nervous about either attempt. “I was more nervous when we were making the rocket,” he said. As for Friday’s successful flight, Shepherd said, “It was cool.”

Eddie Johnson and Matthew Sowa chose rather elaborate cow costumes as their attire for the occasion. Their rocket went straight up on the first try. The pair not only were thrilled with their rocket’s propulsion into the sky but equally as excited to watch their classmates. “It’s cool to see them all launch and see all our hard work pay off,” Sowa said.

For all the squealing and cheering when the rockets blast off, there’s plenty of anticipation as they return to the ground. Part of the fun of the day is attempting to catch one as it floats gently downward. That doesn’t happen too often.

Sometimes the parachutes disconnect or simply malfunction. Who knows where a gust of wind can take a small rocket. On Friday, at least one made what could become its new home on a nearby roof.

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm Some went straight up right on cue and others, not so much, as approximately 156 eighth-graders launched their rockets.

Eli Eastman made a valiant diving attempt to be one of the few to catch his before it touched down. It was close, but despite a few grass stains, he couldn’t quite grab it.

Eighth-grade students packed the bleachers at Beaty Park as they waited for their turn to launch their rockets.

Tristan Shepherd got a couple chances to be part of the launch teams. He looked amazed at the set up prior to his first successful attempt at launching a rocket.

Some went straight up right on cue and others, not so much, as approximately 156 eighth graders launched their rockets.

Approximately 156 eighth grade students took turns precisely attaching their rockets to the launch pad.

Each rocket had a unique design. One rocket was decorated with a not-so-happy pumpkin face.


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