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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's a water bottle rocket!

Jax Novak and Arlo Tharp

Every year the sophomore class tries to create and perfect these plastic missiles. They don’t only just build the rockets, but they also learn to calculate their height and velocity. They apply the laws of physics in an attempt to break the school record of 359 feet and also to deploy a landing mechanism to have their rockets return safely.

Last Wednesday, the 10th grade class exhibited their launches and competed for the glory of highest and fastest rockets.

10th grade Math teacher Ande Lloyd shared his goals for the project: “I want them to learn about quadratic functions, which is essentially the math behind the project. Quadratic functions, if I graph it, it makes an arch and it turns out when we model things like projectile motion or falling objects. The speed of the object is constantly accelerating, and so if we were to graph something that is constantly accelerating it looks like a curve and that's why we need quadratic functions to model it things. The other thing I want my students to learn is the engineering and design process and to convey to my students that when you are trying to design a product or a rocket or whatever it is a process, in fact, it is a cycle of trying different designs, failing, and keep refining and trying until it works. That's how you make rockets, that's how you make anything really.”

At this year's rocket exhibition, we had an arsenal of impressive launches, some even breaking 300 feet. But sadly this year's class, despite their quarrels, couldn't get their plastic masterpieces past the school record of 359 feet. Despite this, one rocket--created by Maggie Glick, Joseba Izaguirre, and Max Portier-- nearly scratched the record with a massive 349.

Joseba shared after the win, “I wasn’t expecting to win, but after two of our launches got over 300 feet I was pretty confident in our design. At the bottom of the rocket we had fins on a sleeve, that way if our splice failed and the rocket exploded the fins wouldn't get damaged in the process. So we could slide our fins on and off so they wouldn't get damaged during transport. The fins themselves were made from a foam board that we cut on the laser cutter. They were two inches wide and three and a half inches tall. Over the splice, we had a plastic sleeve to help hold pressure. Going up to the tornado connector we had a smart water bottle as a sleeve that led to another two-liter bottle. And then from that a fluorescent light tube as the nose cone.”

Congrats to all the sophomores for an excellent project and some beautiful learning!

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