Rocketry camp launches creativity, fun

RANCHO SANTA FE — Spending a week of summer vacation learning pre-engineering, physics and aerodynamic principles may not sound like much fun for some students, but it was a blast — or blast off, in this case — for the eight boys and two girls who participated in David Warner’s rocketry camp at Rancho Santa Fe School.
The group of 9- to 12-year-olds learned the principles of rocketry by designing, building and launching five different rockets that became progressively more sophisticated throughout the five-day camp that began Aug. 17.
The first day, students built paper rockets that used Kelvin’s high-pressure launch system. Next they created small and large Stratoblaster bottle rockets. The larger versions were built with soda bottles, pingpong balls and athletic cones and included parachute recovery systems.
The final days were spent building classic Estes rockets such as Alpha, Big Bertha and Camanche, and “roll your own” rockets using Estes-powered rocket engines.
While the difficulty level varied for each student, they all said they enjoyed the class, describing it as “cool,” “very fun,” and “awesome.”
“It’s pretty cool,” 10-year-old Max Von Ruexleben said. “Building all the rockets was more complicated than I thought it would be.”
“It’s not too hard for me because I have experience with rockets,” 10-year-old Aida Miller said, explaining that he had taken a similar class at the San Diego Jewish Academy.
Amelia Ahles, a seventh-grader at the Rancho Santa Fe School, also said the class wasn’t too challenging. “I’m pretty good with materials,” she said. Andrew Conley, 10, described the camp as “in the middle — easy but hard.”
Max said the class helped him build friendships as well as rockets.
“You get to meet really cool people,” he said. “I had good building partners and the interaction is good because you actively get to test the rockets.”
Warner, a science teacher at the Rancho Santa Fe School for 14 years, has been holding the rocketry camp for the past three summers. A member of the Teacher in Space Project in the 1980s, Warner watched the Space Shuttle Challenger launch, then break apart 73 seconds into its flight.

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