Local students build rockets, help promote STEM careers to younger peers

Students at Krueger School of Applied Technologies compete against others across the nation

SAN ANTONIO – Building rockets and making them reach a certain altitude in a certain amount of time, all while competing against other students across the country, takes some work.

And, the students at the Krueger School of Applied Technologies are putting that work in during and after school.

Richard Giblin, a Krueger School of Applied Technologies eighth-grade student, explains when you are building a rocket, you need to think of everything.

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“When we’re building this rocket, we have all these constraints in mind,” said Giblin. “We’re actually using a simulation of what a real-world environment is, where they are building in constraints, we have to build to these constraints, in order to be allowed to compete in the competition.”

The Principles of Applied Engineering class is all about project-based learning and students like Richard Giblin also have an extra “advanced engineering” project that lasts for the entire school year -- and that’s building a very large rocket.

“They flew a smaller rocket before to collect data,” said Tracy Thomas, Krueger School of Applied Technologies instructor. “And now, they are using that data to make the bigger one and to make predictions.”

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Thomas said all their projects are built online first, before they are built “for real.”

“This uses a CO2 as a power source,” said Tobi Sakim, a Krueger School of Applied Technologies eighth-grade student. “We use a program to design it. And, before that we have to research about cars in general.”

The students work as a team and that means everything from sawing, to building, to using physics.

“We have very high-level physics,” said Thomas. “Remember, these are eighth graders and they are doing some high level kinetic energy calculations and trying to crunch data from our practice flight so, they can actually make predications for the full scale flight that will be more powerful and it’s a safety issue so, they make sure our numbers are good.”

Students at the Krueger School of Applied Technologies work to build rockets. (KSAT)

The students are also involved in community outreach to promote STEM careers and they are making presentations to students their own age and younger.

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“What will stick with me the most is the presentation skills Ms. Thomas has taught us,” said Hanna Femmel, a Krueger School of Applied Technologies eighth grade student.

“Because we have had to do a bunch of outreach events and during those events, we have to teach, and you learn a lot about how to speak to other people.”

The students are competing in the American Rocketry Challenge. Their three official qualification flight scores need to be submitted by April and, shortly after that, they will find out if they make it to the finals.

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