Whitehall middle school students have a blast launching rockets
They lifted the goggles over their eyes and stood back nearly 25 yards.
The countdown — “Five. Four. Three. Two.” — came at a quick pace.
A sizzle then a swish, and the rocket disappeared into the sky for several seconds.
“This is awesome. I love science,” J.E. Harrison Middle School seventh-grader Harrison Huggins, 13, said as his classmates searched for remnants of the rocket that had returned to the ground.
The rockets, propelled by a tiny engine and set off on the school field, could have gone as high as 1,000 feet into the air, according to the packaging. They likely went several hundred feet high, J.E. Harrison Middle School seventh-grade science teacher Kristin Papariello said.
All 300 seventh-graders at J.E. Harrison Middle School in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District participated in a rocket launch last week as the “exclamation point” to a beginning of the year unit on rocket science, said Michael Kaleta, seventh-grade science teacher and science department chairman at J.E. Harrison.
The project was a STEM — or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative — which school leaders are focusing on this year in the science department in all three grades.
In science classes, then, through one project the students are learning science, or about combustion and explosions and actions and reactions; technology, where they recorded a video statement talking about their experiences with the rocket launch; engineering, where they learned to design and build a rocket; and math, where they will calculate the speed and distance of the rocket traveled.
The “project-based learning,” too, helps students to solve problems on their own, putting them in possible real-life situations, Baldwin-Whitehall director of programs Darlene DeFilippo said.
“They're developing solutions for a challenge,” she said.
Bethani Rechtorik, 12, said she became frustrated because her group couldn't get the fins to properly fit their rocket and they had trouble with the launch. But that was a lesson, she said, because in the end, they found a way to make it work.
“When you come across something that you can't do, don't stop,” she said. “You won't know how it ends if you stop.”
Not all of the rockets had perfect launches. That was just another lesson for the students, though.
“We had hurdles,” Kaleta told his students. “We can learn from that. The first rocket that ever launched wasn't perfect. What would you do differently to make it better the second time through?”
Students examined their rockets after they returned to the ground to see what could have gone wrong. Most of them said it was pretty clear they had put something in the wrong place that prevented their rocket from going high or straight enough.
Still, they all had a blast with the project.
“I love school. I've loved school since I was a child,” said Michael Magnotti, 12, a seventh-grader.
And that's a big part of it.
“If you can get kids enthused or inspired, it's just a precursor to achievement,” DeFilippo said.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Brentwood officials approve new HVAC equipment for building
- Brentwood to offer ALICE training to community
- Thomas Jefferson problem solvers ready for international event
- Brentwood Borough birthday event a big hit with students
- Council sends agreement to Brentwood EMS for approval
- Registration deadline nears for Jefferson Hills summer recreation program
- Website details Baldwin Borough spending
- Tax increase part of West Jefferson Hills budget
- Ferris resigns from Baldwin Council