By Dan Miller and Jess Bales
As part of Cyclone Space Mining’s outreach events, the team had the opportunity to spend three hours (two 1.5 hour sessions) with a group of fifth grade students at Lenihan Intermediate School. There were around 18 students and 4 club members attending the classroom sessions. The goal was to encourage students to get excited about STEM and work together as a team. At the sessions, students formed teams to design, build, and launch paper rockets.
During the first session, Dan Miller and other club members talked about the importance of teamwork. In engineering around the world and especially at NASA, working on a team is the most effective way to build something really cool. The students went around the room and talked about their favorite teams and what made their team successful. This discussion set the tone for the rest of the lesson.
Next, we taught the students about decision matrices. They made their own decision matrices later to decide how they would design their own rockets. The first session concluded with teams choosing names and writing the team name on their initial rocket. After the first session, it was very encouraging to see how excited the kids were for the next class!
To begin the second session, the teams reconfigured and reviewed their decision matrices. The students tested their rockets and made adjustments to their rockets. In the last twenty minutes of the class, Cyclone Space Mining led the final launches on the paper rockets. The winning team launched their rocket 72 feet. The students were astounded with the improvements, beating their previous record of 40 feet.
As the team was leaving, one of the students asked if we would be coming back next year and what activity we would be doing. The growing enthusiasm for STEM was apparent with each rocket launch. Engaging young minds is something we get to do all year, but this event was especially rewarding. Spending more time with kids and watching them learn over a couple weeks was an amazing experience.