Science students launch rockets

EDMOND—During the semicentennial year of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, Herbert W. Armstrong College students learned trigonometry in a unique way today by launching model rockets. Fundamentals of Physical Science instructor and, for today, flight director Andrew Locher led 13 sophomores to a campus parking lot, where the class set up launch control: a board affixed with two metal rods and a simple electrical ignition kit.

The launches were also viewed by middle school science students from Imperial Academy, including 12 online students, and by a local family, whose 6-year-old and 4-year-old girls had been invited to assemble and launch rockets of their own. Students and visitors delighted in counting down to liftoff, pressing the launch buttons, and exclaiming as their craft shot hundreds of feet into the sky within 1.5 to 6 seconds.

Since none were equipped with altimeters or any other avionics, the students worked in pairs using inclinometers, stopwatches, tangents and cosigns to calculate their own telemetry: times, distances, acceleration rates, maximum speeds, apogees and descent rates. Acceleration exceeded that of the U.S. Space Shuttle, velocities eclipsed 400 mph, and altitudes surpassed 1,000 feet.