Kannapolis rocket challenge launches students toward success

Published 1:33 am Monday, October 13, 2014

By Jeanie Groh


Students at three Kannapolis schools were given a special mission last week — to build a food transportation device that could send a payload via rocket to an island stricken by a natural disaster.

They spent an entire week working on the project, said Kannapolis Intermediate School teacher Ashleigh Allen.

The 4-H National Youth Science Day project required the students to build a rocket that would deposit a payload of raisins in a target when the rockets were launched.

“We launched rockets and tried to get it in the red circle,” said fifth-grader Sarah Smothers.

Smothers said her group put their raisins on the inside of their rocket “so it doesn’t mess with the aerodynamics.”

Sarah Chapin, also a teacher at Kannapolis Intermediate, said the exercise taught force and motion, which is a part of the students’ common core curriculum. They also had to measure angles to make sure the rockets could get to the island.

The activity was important because it let the students apply what they’ve been taught, Allen said. “It also helps with team building.”

The students were divided into groups and given basic materials such as card stock, tissue paper, tape, string, rubber bands, straws and pipe to create their rockets. It was up to them to design the rockets and figure out where to place the payload.

On Thursday, they put their creations to the test, using rocket launchers made of two-liter plastic bottles and PVC pipe to propel the rockets and their payloads toward the target.

They measured the angles to find the best way to ensure the rockets made it to their intended destination, then recorded the data in their interactive notebooks.

Friday, the classes discussed the data, talked about how the payload’s location affected the trajectory of the rocket and examined how teamwork played a part in the project.

Classes at Woodrow Wilson and Jackson Park Elementary also took part in the 4-H National Youth Science Day.