The 10-degree temperature on Thursday didn’t cool the enthusiasm of Great Bend High School Physics II students as they tested rockets they made in class.
Using the field behind the District Education Center as a launch site, they huddled close in an open bus bay as they prepared the fuses and attempted to light them in strong icy winds.
The rocket launch was the culmination of a two-week project designed to demonstrate the laws of thermodynamics, said their teacher, Jessica Nairn.
“They learned how the first and second laws of thermodynamics apply to the fuel of a rocket,” Nairn said. “They already knew the basic form of a rocket and how that applies to aerodynamics, but the application of the fuel was new.
“The rockets were expected to launch a maximum of one kilometer, but they did not make it off the stand,” she said.
Students were disappointed, but the failure to launch didn’t diminish the learning experience.
“They did meet their objective and their rocket fuel did burn, it just did not produce enough thrust to launch the rocket,” Nairn said.
When critiquing their work, students hypothesized that the launch stand was a bit too tall and several of the rockets did not stand straight up on the stand. They also noted that some of the motors were not sealed into the rockets.
“This was the first year for building these rockets,” she said. “The students really stepped up and tried their best.
“On launch day it was cold, but the students were not deterred from wanting to launch,” she said. “Their excitement – even though it was well below freezing – was good to see.
“The amount of effort put into the rockets did not pay off for them, but in science it is OK to fail,” Nairn said. “Even though the rockets were not a success, the hands-on application of thermodynamics was not lost in the failure.”
Students in the class include Wyatt Rugan, Madison Otter, Dorian Lueth, Brodie Owens and Dawson Clark, all seniors.