To the Moon!

by Michael Porter
While their rockets were just a bit short of reaching lunar orbit, the crescent moon was still visible as our 4th graders and a contingent of parents launched their "bottle rockets" skyward.
"Building rockets in 4th grade has been a long-standing tradition at JCDS," said Cristina Knodel, Computer Science and Technology Specialist. "Many returning students say it's a special memory they always remember!"
Ms. Knodel and Science Specialist Deborah Landon have been working with the fourth graders as they learn about space and life on the International Space Station (ISS) since the beginning of the school year. They've built lunar landers, studied parts of rockets, and discussed problems that can affect people during long-duration space travel. During their recent Deep Dive, teams of students built prototypes of innovative inventions that astronauts may find useful during an extended stay on the ISS.

As a culminating project, students used 2-liter bottles to build their own rockets. They attached fins, nose cones, and other features to help the rocket soar straight and high.

On Tuesday, October 26, each 4th grade class took to the main field for the big event. With their bottle half-filled with water, each rocket was placed on the launch pad.
Using a hand operated air pump, each rocket was charged by compressing air into it. Students took turns at the pump, but when the effort became more difficult they were leant a hand by our resident super-hero, Patrick Grant -- popularly known as Batman to the students.

This project was also significant in that it was another small step back toward standard operations on campus -- parents were invited on campus to watch the launches and share their pride with their children. Many smiles adorned the faces of the excited spectators.
The students thoroughly enjoyed the unit on space, and with the current national ramped-up efforts to go back to the moon and to Mars, it was certainly timely and relevant.