Sitting in his chair outside of Santa Clarita Elementary School on Friday, sixth grade student Eric Sanders, 11, eagerly waited his turn to launch his manufactured bottle rocket into the air.
“We came up with the idea after looking on the internet and we based it off of Space X and Elon Musk, the famous Tesla engineer,” Sanders said of his team’s bottle rocket design. “We based it off of the idea because Space X is trying to take more and more humans to space.”
Sanders was one of nearly 70 sixth grade students who designed, tested, decorated and launched their own bottle rockets as part of their classroom learning at Santa Clarita Elementary.
“With a lot of these kind of projects we want to tie in a lot of the science and even the math. We had the students measure the fin, the bottle and measure how much water goes into it,” sixth grade teacher Paula Ver Steeg said. “We try to not just make it science but make it everything because it does tie in to everything.”
In addition to fulfilling the Next Generation Science Standards, the annual project also incorporates oral and speaking standards, writing standards, research components and collaborative group work.
“It also includes our speaking and listening standards because they had to share them and our writing standards because they had to write a report on them,” sixth grade teacher Lesley Clark said.
In groups of two to three, the students worked together during and after school to create their rocket designs. The finished products included rockets with long cone heads and short stubs, weighted centers and loose-fitting ribbons, and a few lengthy fins and many long ones.
“It was really fun, hanging out with your friends, collecting materials. It was all fun and interesting,” said Jacob Stokes, 11, who based his rocket off of the video game “Fallout 4.” “We made some fins that were very aerodynamic. It was the most recommended off our packet that we got so I think it will make it go a little higher.”
During Friday’s launch, students cheered for their classmates and ran after rockets after they were launched nearly 30 feet into the sky.
The sixth grade bottle rocket project and launch has been a tradition for the “little school on the corner” has continued for more than 25 years. It is seen as both a culmination of lessons and a rite of passage for the school’s oldest students.
“It’s cool because I taught fifth grade last year and so I lived with some of these kids and they watched and they made predictions of what they wanted to do next year,” Clark said.
But more than anything else, the bottle rocket projects teach students to use their imaginations, become inventors and work together.
“I learned that you can’t really do much without friends and you might think somethings are easy but they’re actually really hard to complete,” Stokes said.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_