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Rockets at East Islip Middle School launch curiosity in young minds

Seventh grade students from Islip Middle School watch

Seventh grade students from Islip Middle School watch as a rocket launches at the school in Islip Terrace. (Oct. 17, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

Seventh-grader Nickolas Dimitriou pushed down on a bicycle pump until water sprayed on his face as his class project, a plastic bottle rocket, shot up into the sky.

After learning about rocketry, the Space Race and Newton’s three laws of motion in class, 21 East Islip Middle School technology students on Thursday launched handmade rockets, some reaching as high as 100 feet into the air from the school’s athletic field.

“We built them out of real bottles, put water inside them, pumped air into them and they all went pretty high into the air,” said Nickolas, 12, of East Islip. “I had a lot of fun doing this.”

Students also launched a few solid rocket engines, which reached 500 feet into the air, that the eighth graders had previously launched from the athletic fields on Wednesday.

The class’s technology teacher, Hal Kench, said once the students absorbed his class lessons involving the history of rockets, they spent two weeks building the rockets.

“Once we mastered all of the stuff about rockets, then they get the carrot at the end of the stick — the reward of building the rockets and launching them and seeing Newton’s laws in real action and how to make rockets fly,” said Kench, 39, of Center Moriches.

Students took turns using the pump, which pressurized the water-filled plastic bottles until there was enough pressure and water and air propelled the rockets into the air.

“It’s great for the kids to be able to build the rockets and know what those different parts do,” Kench said. “I realize they’re not exact rockets, but they’re close. They have fins, the body and nose. They fly the same way. It’s our hope they continue on learning science, technology, engineering and math and someday get a job in those fields.”

Along with her fellow students, Cassidy Triolo eyed one of the falling bottle rockets as it headed toward the ground.

“We watched a lot of videos and researched and then we build a rocket,” said Cassidy, 12, of East Islip. “It was a really fun experience and I even almost caught one.”

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