Moon Landing Celebration: Rocket launch demonstration
- Author: Hardin Planetarium
- Author: Thursday, July 18th, 2019
A high flying demonstration of rocketry is one of the highlights for Hardin Planetarium’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon on Saturday (July 20).
Starting at 5 p.m. CDT, on the lawn behind Snell Hall (corner of 14th Avenue and Chestnut Street), rockets launched with compressed air and rockets using chemical propellant will soar into the skies above the buildings of WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering.
Two science teachers from Drakes Creek Middle School are in charge of Saturday evening’s launch demonstrations. Medium power model rockets will be launched under tightly controlled circumstances by volunteers with sport rocketry certification. Other launch demonstrations will feature high flying rockets constructed from soda bottles and rockets constructed during the 2:30 to 5 p.m. Activity Festival which is also part of the Moon Landing Celebration.
Ecil Miller, a member of the National Association of Rocketry, the national organization for sports rocketry, observed, “We are flying rockets with a mass less than 3.3 lbs (1500 grams) and with less than 4.4 oz of propellant, which means that FAA permits are not required.”
Miller has long experience with higher powered rockets. “My interest in rocketry began in high school when I was a member of our school rocket club. We competed against schools from across the US in the Team America Rocket Challenge (TARC). I became even more interested in rocketry when I began mentoring TARC teams with my mentor Jesse Sims, of Cave City.”
Zachary Vincent, 8th grade science teacher at Drakes Creek Middle School, is sharing oversight of the Rocket Launching Challenge. Vincent recalled, “My interest in rockets began at a young age when I would fly model rockets with my best friend. This combined with one of my favorite movies of all time, October Sky, pushed my interest in science.”
An interest in science is closely tied to the thrill of rocketry for Vincent, who shared, “In college I dove back into the subject with one of my mentors. With my interest sparked again, I learned the physics and chemistry involved with flight of rockets.”
Teaching science is made easier with something as exciting as rocketry to catch a student’s attention. When Miller noted that when he started teaching, “one of the first projects I introduced to my school was rocketry. Rocketry covers all STEM aspects. Students design rockets using software programs, build rockets from scratch, and use calculations to hit target altitudes. While students are doing these things, they are learning classical mechanics. It really is rocket science.”
Saturday’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing takes place at WKU’s Hardin Planetarium. Events start at 1 p.m. and continue throughout the day. No admission is charged for any of the events and free parking is available in all WKU lots. Further details are available at https://www.wku.edu/go/moonlanding.
Contact: Ecil Miller, (270) 528-6599; or Zach Vincent, (270) 779-8616