Students in the 7th grade class at Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Westminster are shooting for the stars. The school held its 15th annual Rocket Launch recently with each student building his or her own rocket under the supervision of the school’s science coordinator, Mrs. Augustine Bonifacio.
Each student’s rocket included the installation of a single-stage combustible engine. They were careful to take into account proper aerodynamics, sanding, etc., when constructing their missiles. The rockets were launched off of stationary launch pads, using hand-held remote control igniter circuits.
Mr. Michael Seibert, the school’s longtime junior high teacher, also assisted in the launch procedures.
The maximum altitude of flight reached was 1000 ft. The entire student body spent an hour the morning of the launch watching and cheering on the 7th grade students as they took turns, one by one, launching their rockets and trying to catch them during the final stage of their parachute descent.
In preparation for the activity, the 7th grade students studied the application of Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion: (1) objects tend to resist changes in motion; (2) force equals mass times acceleration; (3) for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The principles are then applied to the science of rocketry.
Mr. John Cone, a beloved junior high teacher at Blessed Sacrament for more than a decade, founded the event in 2003 and it has been a celebrated annual tradition at the school ever since. Mr. Cone had an extensive background as a highly respected engineer for the U.S. Navy and TRW, including an integral role in the production of the Pioneer space satellites, before becoming a teacher at the school. He passed away in 2015 and the event is now held in his memory.