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Students launch model rockets in NASA Club grand finale

The NASA Model Rocket Club had an impressive finale Tuesday as students launched their rocket prototypes, some reaching upwards of 100 feet. Mr. Kyle Botkin, math teacher at JHCA, said he started this club to get students excited about and interested in rockets.
“NASA is launching the unmanned Artemis 1 soon, which will be the first mission to the moon since the 1970s. Artemis 2 and 3 will send humans to the moon again, hopefully landing in 2024. Today’s youth will be the first humans to step foot on Mars!” he said.

After spending weeks learning about the physics, technology, and history of rockets, students were tasked with creating their own model rocket designs out of 2 liter bottles, plastic, tape, and cardboard. The students launched their prototypes, filled halfway with water, via an apparatus designed by Mr. Botkin. The device forced compressed air into the bottles, simulating the liquid fuel used in real rockets.

According to Mr. Botkin, the water inside the 2 liter bottles acted as both an initial burst of force and as weight simulation. “Since force equals mass times acceleration (Newton’s second law), having more mass shoot out the bottom of the bottle equates to more force. Newton’s third law states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So, more downward force out of the bottom, means more upward force of the rocket,” he said.

The club was offered to students in third through sixth grade and a few upper school students also joined in the fun. Mr. Botkin, who holds a master’s degree in math education from Harvard, said he enjoyed seeing the students’ creativity in naming and designing a rocket out of something as simple as a 2 liter bottle. “And obviously watching their excitement as the rockets were launched.”
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