Burlington students get lessons in rocket science

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – A group of Burlington fifth graders were over the moon Tuesday for a lesson in physics. Callahan Park was filled with students of all ages ecstatic to watch their classmates launch rockets. It’s all part of a program run by the Department of Defense hoping to instill a passion for science in kids early on.

Fifth graders at Burlington’s Christ the King school took their knowledge to new heights Tuesday.

“We launched rockets that we made at Starbase. It’s kind of like an air base and stuff and we launched them and tried to catch them,” said Adriana Gasparini, one of 24 students who launched the handmade rockets. “I thought it was going to really fun and kind of easy to do it — and it is really fun — but it’s really hard to catch it, especially with the wind blowing the other way.”

With fair winds, most of the kids struggled to catch their rockets and some took a trip to the trees. Eleanor Parker Bartlett explained that the key is to jump. She caught her rocket and shared other advice with her classmates. “It takes a lot of work but you just have to keep motivated and you’ll get it done,” she said.

The kids got to name their rockets. Eleanor named her’s Fox. Classmate Wes Fisk named his drift. “It was really fun to launch. Really light and easy to make,” he said.

Donovan Provost also came up with a fun name — Shrek. “Everybody should watch ‘Shrek,’” he said.

When it came time to launch, students stepped up to the launch pads run by staff with the Starbase program.

“The kids load their rocket onto the launch pad and they hook up little alligator clips and then that’s hooked to a launch system,” explained Starbase’s Paige Clark. The launch system sends a current to the igniter inside the rocket, sparks the engine, and sends it 200 feet into the air.

But she says the engine isn’t the only thing the Starbase program is sparking. “It’s to spark an interest in a STEM topic or opportunity in their future.”

Run by the Vermont Airguard and the US Department of Defense, the rocket launch has been happening every year since 1994, when the program began in Vermont.

“They are very very excited, this is one of the highlights of the Starbase program — is building and launching the rocket,” Clark said.

Students we spoke to said that they hope to do more science like this as they get older.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *