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Outreaching to local middle school class


Clean Green IGERT (UCLA) trainees Razmig Kandilian and Ian McKinley (advisor Prof. Laurent Pilon) were guest teachers for a two-hour session of Campbell Hall Junior High’s “Just Build It” class on May 19, 2011. The class is a new 8th grade elective class about technology and engineering in history taught my Ms. Ellen Hong. The unit focused on rockets, the climax of which was to launch two-liter bottle water rockets.

A water rocket works by half-filling a two liter bottle with water, flipping it upside down, and pressurizing the air remaining in the top. Its launch is propelled by the pressurized air pushing the water out of the bottle, decreasing the mass of the rocket, and propelling it opposite the exiting water flow. In preparation for the launch, the thirteen students in the class customized two-liter bottle “rockets” to their liking with fins, noses, and weights. In addition, Ian built a PVC pipe bike pump powered launcher. The session with the students consisted of explaining the principles involved in rocket propulsion followed by shooting off water rockets on the school’s football field. Some rockets soared to heights around forty feet while others topped out at ten feet. Ian also built a special rocket outfitted with a tennis ball to illustrate the principles behind NASA’s rockets. The students then returned to the classroom and Ian and Razmig led a technical discussion about the successes and failures of the rockets. The students then watched a number of short videos of different rockets, both space shuttles and homemade rockets. In their evaluations, the students were full of praise for the class with comments such as “I really liked it. It’s cool to get advice from pros,” and “It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed having engineers talk to us.”

They will return to lead a class in solar balloons.