So What Happens At A Rocket Launch?


L1000239The Science Club for Girls has teamed with volunteers from Aurora Flight Science’s in Cambridge, MA to mentor girls in the engineering of rockets.  Science Club for Girls is a nonprofit organization based in Cambridge, MA that offers extensive, deeply engaging after-school programming in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to K-12 girls.  You can read more about their impressive programming in a wide range of science, engineering and math subjects here.

SheGives visited a test launch at Wetherbee Field in Acton, MA this morning.  You can read more about it in an earlier SheGives post here, but seven middle and high school girls on the rocket teams Aspire and SEARAstro were test launching their rockets in order to ensure that their rockets will qualify for the national Team America Rocketry Challenge.  Last year a SCFG Rocket Team qualified as one of five all-girl teams nationally, so hopes and expectations are running high.  Here are the basic facts, and some snapshots of the test launch.

The Challenge:  In order to eventually make the cut, the rockets must reach an altitute of 825 feet within a flight window of 48-50 seconds.  The kicker:  the “astronauts” must be fully intact at landing — the astronauts being two raw eggs.

The Learning from Last Year’s Lap at Nationals:  Last year’s SCFG Rocket Team did all of its testing during New England winter and spring, but nationals was held in Virginia in May.  Team SCFG learned that in order to compete well in nationals they need to make further adjustments to account for the change in air density from our cold winter air to the warmer climate air.

Today’s Players:  Science Club for Girls Rocket Team Members- Shivani Angappan, Alyssa Wang & Ellen Wang (sisters – isn’t that cute?)

Rocket Team Mentors – Angelica Cardona & Amanda Dropkin (Aurora Flight Sciences)
Tatevick “Tati” De La Rosa (former Science Club Rocket Team member and current UMass student)

So what happens at a Rocket Launch?


The rocket is loaded.


And secured. Then LAUNCHED.








And sometimes you find it out of reach. Like at the top of a tree.


Sometimes some searching is involved in finding it.


You need to check the altimeter for important stats.


And you need to check the health and safety of the astronauts after landing. Oooops. One of these astro-girls got cracked.


Very scientific notes are taken on how far, how fast and whether the parachute deployed.


A team meeting may be required to re-strategize. Or affix additional epoxy glue.


And at some point the team needs to head back to the lab with all the relevant data from the test launch to work out any kinks prior to the next test launch. And maybe have some hot chocolate.

Science Club for Girls Teen Program Director Maura Hackett Looks Pleased

Science Club for Girls Teen Program Director Maura Hackett


Science Club for Girls Senior Program Director Kate Pickle










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