E-RAU students spread love of science.
“5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1,” counted down 120 5th grade voices in unison. Then the bottle rocket blasted off to screams and cheers from the Tomoka Elementary School students on Oct. 5 at a competition on school grounds.
The event was conducted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Honors Student Association, as part of their community outreach program. Students were divided into teams and the group cheered as each bottle rocket soared into the sky They were judged by time spent in the air.
Teacher Jim Ravede said the students love the contest.
“This has been tremendous,” he said. “It’s not so much the rockets, but having the college students here. We talk about college all the time.”
The purpose of the event is to ignite interest in STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. The E-RAU students visit the school to teach the youngsters about basic physics, and then the 5th graders decorate rockets made from donated two-liter soda bottles and add fins made with poster board.
Maggie Gallant, of HSA, said 5th grade is the perfect level to reach students.
“They’re about to go into middle school and take science classes,” she said.
The rockets fly high into the air and draw lots of oohs and ahhs.
“The kids love it and we love it too,” she said. “You hear ‘bottle rocket’ and you think, ‘how cool can it be, but it’s a lot more exciting than it sounds.”
Michelle Howell, an E-RAU instructor and advisor to HSA, said the competition was a way to get involved in the community. She agreed 5th grade was the perfect age to reach kids.
“They don’t think that science isn’t cool,” she said.
The competition was started by Gallant four years ago, when HSA students were looking for a service project. By sharing their love of science, they hope that the children will pursue it in college and careers.