Science and Technology News

Monday, May 12, 2014

Local schoolchildren celebrate sciences

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 building skills.

"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 said.

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 the museum.

"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 world scenarios.

"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."

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