(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Fifth graders at Douglass Valley Elementary School designed and built their own rockets with the help of United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Cadets.
This STEM activity allowed cadets to share their passion for rocket engineering, while also sparking curiosity in the world of science for elementary school students.
“So what I’m hoping that the kids take away from it is that appreciation for science as fun,” U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Dell Olmstead said. “Engineering is fun, I can do this. That’s actually probably the biggest. They made these rockets. They were gluing the fins on. So there they were, designing what they look like and so a little bit of excitement about ‘I did this technical thing, I made something and it works’.”
Students first learned their mission of building a rocket and were able to add their own designs. Douglass Valley Elementary School fifth grader, Kori Hall, said “I learned to put a motor in it and add a lot of things.”
USAFA Cadets who are members of the Blue Horizon Rocketry Team helped students, so their rockets could successfully launch and fly high towards the sky.
“The cadets are going to help them put the dangerous parts in them, get it all set up, and then actually they get to hit the go button and make their rocket go into the sky,” said Olmstead.
Air Force Academy Cadet First Class Shepherd Kruse started the Blue Horizon rocketry team and now, leading up to graduation, reflected on what it means to him.
“I think the most memorable moment would have to be the Blue Horizon rocketry team that I started,” Kruse said. “And in regards to the stuff that we accomplished and the team that I was able to put together, meeting these people and really figuring out that they have these skills and gifts and talents that I could cohesively put together and utilize for this rocket team was really encouraging. And in my opinion, it’s kind of my legacy that they’ll be here at the Air Force Academy.”
As each rocket got ready to launch, loud cheers could be heard as students cheered each other on.
“But these fifth graders, they are so excited, and they bring the energy, as you can hear them counting down the rocket launches each and every one,” Kruse said. “And I think it’s the energy I enjoyed the most.”
Elijah Bernard, Douglass Valley Elementary School fifth grader, said his favorite part was “launching my rocket, the decorations on my rocket, seeing how high they’ll go.”
The event’s overall goal – to fuel a passion for students in the world of STEAM and teach them to shoot for infinity and beyond.
“They told us some stuff about Earth and Mars and stuff and how rockets get to different places and what we’ll be doing,” said Bernard.
USAFA shared engineering skills and worked alongside what could one day be future rocket scientists.
“I’ve got the fifth graders where I’m trying to inspire them to get excited about these STEM activities and understand that science isn’t magic,” Olmstead said. “…there’s a reason for everything and it’s also not super scary and it’s really fun. So that’s sort of the idea of what I’m trying to get across here by having the kids.”