“It can’t be that hard! It’s not rocket science!” We’ve all heard it before – the slogan used to justify how easy something is compared to some harder task. Well, this slogan doesn’t apply to this class because we actually are studying rocketry. Knowing that rocketry was incorporated into the curriculum for this semester scared me a little, but I knew I was up for the challenge. Then the search began, what languages went into programming rockets, and what physics calculations went into it as well.
While searching something surfaced that was relevant to what last years semester curriculum. Some students were knowledgeable of Python, but I was surprised to find that the language is widely used in the rocket industry. This was a blessing in disguise because this language is specific to the previous curriculum. While knowing that the previous students would lead the class in coding; there was a new kid on the block. The new kid is dedicated to and obsessed with his craft, and he enjoys learning about programming. Every class, he would finish early and the other students would always attribute his success to him cheating, even though this is not the case. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he stated that he wanted to do something dealing with computers. After coding for a few weeks we got into what made rockets fly and how those things apply to everyday life. Newton’s three laws of physics were the basic three laws that the students learned about followed by activities for each law.
The last two activities were the student’s favorite, balloon rockets and paper rockets. Balloon rockets required the students to blow up balloons with a straw and tape attached to a string. Students enjoyed this experience more than ever; they didn’t want to put down the balloons because the activity was so engaging. Paper rockets required the students to think in partner pairs. The partners were already chosen for the students, and they had to get out of their comfort zone to complete the task. Instructions were given to couples on one sheet of paper, and they had to think about how to complete the task based on the instructions. This skill helps them with their engineering skills and creative thinking.
Written by: Nigel Ray