by Alethea Smock
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
5/9/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The
enthusiastic sound of children anticipating the launch of their
homemade rockets filled the air as students and teachers alike gathered
at Patriot Park May 5.
More than 80 school children from Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy
descended on the park to make and launch rockets with the help of the
local Civil Air Patrol Squadron. They filled tables with construction
materials and set-up a rocket launcher to allow kids to test their
"We want to interest kids in engineering and expose them to the
different disciplines out there today," said Maripat Webster, grant
coordinator at Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy. "The kids will get a
chance to expand their experiences in a fun way by building rockets
today and will also test their math skills."
"Our kids come from challenging backgrounds and we want to encourage
them to explore math in a tactile way. Our relationship with Peterson
AFB allows us to show the kids careers that are math-dependent," Webster
The park's location allowed the kids to visit the Peterson Air and Space
Museum as well giving context to the lessons on rocketry. The children
had the opportunity to build rockets and then tour the planes located at
"These kids don't normally get the chance to see a military base and it
was fun to see them really open up and enjoy the park," said Capt. Bill
Blatchley, squadron aerospace education officer for the Colorado Springs
Cadet Squadron. "We are glad Peterson could host us for this fun day of
building rockets and touring planes, it gave the kids a chance to be
out of their normal environment and experience new things."
Being available to the community to strengthen relationships is a
priority for the 21st Space Wing. Col John Shaw, 21st Space Wing
commander, recently visited several D11 schools, including Jack Swigert,
to support the school's efforts in science and math education.
"Hosting the kids at Peterson to learn more about rocketry is an example
of us reaching out to our greater community," said Shaw. "When my
Airmen have happy kids and families they are more focused on the
mission. We have a responsibility to support our local schools and
partner where we can to ensure all kids receive the resources they need
to be happy and successful."
Jack Swigert is a magnet school serving the sixth, seventh and eighth
grade offering curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering,
math and aeronautics. The school is devoted to project-based learning
and gives kids the chance to test out theories and knowledge in real
"The kids now have a reason to learn geometry and math," said Webster.
"Building projects such as these rockets gives them a reason to learn
and provides the motivation to be successful in their classes."