Local NASA Crew Competes with SpaceX

 “We should build rockets in math class all year!”

Ihanbda put in a window so 
his astronaut could see the view.
Building used a lot of math…
and a considerable amount of

Each rocket was an original design.

Cokaya chose different
angles for his rocket fins.

That was the unsolicited opinion of a third grader who didn’t realize how much math we used as we built our rocket ships “to spec.” First, there was reading and following directions. Yep, doing things in the right order is pertinent in many things in life.

There was also a ton of estimating, measuring, re-measuring, measuring angles, cutting and gluing, and even designing a tiny little chair into which ones tiny little astronaut will be seat-belted for the flight.

Kimamana carefully crafted an astronaut chair
with a seat belt for her astronaut.

Then there’s the vocabulary: altitude, launch speed, orbit, escape velocity, terminal landing (i.e. it crashed!), psi (pounds per square inch of pressure), apogee (highest point in the flight), volume, and angle measurement (not to be confused with angel measurement which is what you have when you are a new speller.)

We captured data on each launch.

And, finally, there’s Launch Day! With great excitement, and after a requisite class photo in our NASA “uniforms,” we lugged our rockets, launch equipment, and water out onto the football field.

Hard to catch the rocket for a pic before it was out of sight!

Everyone got to load and launch their rocket twice, run after someone’s rocket at least once, help each other set up launches, help with the countdown, and applaud at success (or failure.) Several rockets made terminal landings, but we already knew that was a possibility (and we’d watched several SpaceX rockets attempt and fail at a landing, so we knew it happens even to the pros!)

 All our little plastic astronauts survived, though. That was helpful.

We FINALLY caught a picture before the rocket
zoomed out of the frame!

Space Squirrel watches the launches
with a bit of jealousy.

Even Space Squirrel, who’d been our mascot all through COVID, got to come out for launch day. Although he tried to talk us into letting him go up in a rocket, we couldn’t find a way to make a rocket big enough to carry him. But, he got to watch.

We had help from each other, and from
a couple of teacher aides. Here, Tyler
is putting fuel (water) into his rocket.

We took turns measuring the angle of ascent 
and using trig functions on the calculator
to determine height at apogee.

Just about everyone agreed that this school year has been the most challenging EVER. But, clearly, our NASA (Native American Space Academy, of course) program, culminating with building and launching our very own rockets was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED for learning.