Young rock­e­teers lift-off in The Square

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

The Square in Palmer­ston North briefly be­came a mini Cape Canaveral as teams of young techies let bot­tle rock­ets fly.

Af­ter a four-week long count­down of learn­ing, dis­cus­sion, de­sign­ing and test­ing in rocket class, it was fi­nally time for lift-off on Fri­day night.

The Tech Chal­lenge pro­gramme for years 7-10, part of the STEM (sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics) out­reach pro­gramme, was su­per­vised at City Li­brary by Tyler Benson, a fourth year Massey Univer­sity Bach­e­lor of En­gi­neer­ing stu­dent.

Benson di­vided the 18 school pupils into two groups, who worked in teams of three or four on build­ing ‘‘high-pres­sure, hy­dro-pow­ered bot­tle rock­ets’’.

Fu­elled by water and com­pressed air in ac­cor­dance with New­ton’s Third Law of Physics - for ev­ery ac­tion, there is an equal and op­po­site re­ac­tion - the twolitre plas­tic drink bot­tle rock­ets can reach a con­sid­er­able height.

Dy­lan Evans, 12, from Ross In­ter­me­di­ate, said he re­ally en­joyed the pro­gramme.

‘‘We’ve been learn­ing about the three laws of physics, and aero­dy­nam­ics, and we’ve been mak­ing at least two or three pro­to­types.’’

The pro­gramme also fo­cused

‘‘We've been learn­ing about the three laws of physics, and aero­dy­nam­ics, and we've been mak­ing at least two or three pro­to­types.’’ Dy­lan Evans

on learn­ing about de­sign, struc­tural in­tegrity, pro­to­typ­ing tech­niques, team­work, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and 3-D print­ing.

A 3-D printer was used to cre­ate a cargo con­tainer, de­signed by home­schooled Kaylee Roberts, 12, to hold an elec­tronic al­time­ter so they could see how high their rocket reached.

An­other team mem­ber, Phoebe Conger, 10, from Kairanga School said they added fins to their rocket to help sta­bilise it in flight. It also had a para­chute.

‘‘When we tested it, the para­chute de­ployed re­ally well,’’ Pheobe said.

On Thurs­day, an­other team tested their am­bi­tious twinengined rocket, launch­ing it from two three-legged ‘‘Aqua­ports’’.

The Aqua­port an­chors the rocket in place so air can be pumped into it.

Any fail­ures were con­sid­ered part of the learn­ing process.


Jack Han­cock leaves the launch zone as his team’s hy­dro rocket blasts off.

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