4-H Rockets STEM into Classrooms across the Country


Camden Fairview Students cheer on a 5th grader as she jumpstarts their team’s rockets to the rescue.

Borne aloft on streams of pressurized air, the streamlined bottle rockets wafted through the air bearing precious food resources to the hypothetical disaster victims of hula-hoop island. Cheers greeted successful arrivals, and cries the crash landing of wayward transports.

The "Rockets to the Rescue" event, sponsored by Lockheed Martin and local 4-H Clubs as part of 4-H National Youth Science Day, combines the two topics of science and food security—both issues of importance to 4-H—into a singular challenge: design and build an aerodynamic food transportation device capable of delivering a payload of nutritious food to an area on the ground defined by a target.

Lockheed Martin employees from across the country volunteered their time in Camden, Huntsville, Fort Worth, Marietta, Washington D.C. and Syracuse as part of Lockheed Martin’s Month of Giving. You can view photos from the events in the “Related Media” box to the right.

Camden, Arkansas
Some 50 students from the 5th and 6th grade of Camden Fairview’s Intermediate and Middle Schools assembled at Missiles and Fire Control’s (MFC) Camden Operations facility in early October to test their engineering prowess in a “Rockets to the Rescue!” mission.

“The students were really excited to build their bottle rockets to performance requirements and prove out their designs,” said Camden Financial Accounting Manager Valerie Keaton. “For some, it was their first taste of applying science and engineering principles to solving real-world problems they can relate to.”


Students participate in the Fort Worth 4-H National Youth Science Day event guided by Aero employee volunteers in the "Rockets to the Rescue" challenge.

Guided by Lockheed Martin volunteers and high school students from Project Lead the Way, the junior aeronauts designed their rockets out of everyday materials ranging from recyclable soda bottles and cotton balls to pipe cleaners and rubber bands. As accuracy was also critical to mission success, the protractor was perhaps the most important tool provided.

Their designs complete, the students put their aerodynamic engineering chops to the test by demonstrating their rockets’ ability to transport a payload of raisins to target hoops 50 feet from the launch pad. They increased accuracy by adjusting stability and pressure and predicted flight distance by using the protractor to measure and adjust launch angles.

Camden Operations site director Colin Sterling was everywhere, encouraging students, cheering their successes and helping them launch devastating salvos from an imposing mobile rocket launcher model. “We are really taking the Helping the Future Arrive campaign to heart in our STEM outreach,” he said. “We want to show students that they can be a part of that, that they can make a difference whether they pursue a university track or apply their skills on a high-tech production line.”

Huntsville, Alabama
Four Space System Company (SSC) volunteers supported the 4-H National Youth Science Day "Stomp Rocket" activity at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) in Huntsville, Alabama on Saturday, October 11.   In addition, Terry Abel a LMSSC Civil Space Engineer gave two special presentations titled "Rockets, Smoke, and Fire" to 150 students throughout the day-long event.

Four SSC volunteers, Mahmoud Abdelaal, Amber Conner, Austin Link and Megan Hathcock, of Lockheed Martin SSC MDS and THAAD partnered with 4-H representatives to support the Rockets to the Rescue activity, teaching over 100 area children about propulsion and how to build a rocket using simple materials.

Amber Conner, an SSC volunteer said, "The 4-H Day Activity at USSRC went great, the kids (and parents) had so much fun.  From toddlers to teenagers everyone was able to enjoy Rockets to the Rescue.  We had so many participants that we actually ran out of supplies early.  All-in-all, it was a great turnout!"


Students participate in the Fort Worth 4-H National Youth Science Day event guided by Aero employee volunteers in the "Rockets to the Rescue" challenge.

Fort Worth, Texas
Committed to inspiring students to pursue future careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Aeronautics employee volunteers from Fort Worth hosted 26 middle and high school students as part of 4-H National Youth Science Day on October 8.

Led by five engineers from Fort Worth Aeronautics and Grand Prairie Missiles and Fire Control, the students were given the opportunity to explore how aerospace engineering can be used to solve real life challenges.

The students were divided into six teams and tasked to design, build and test a propulsion system and Food Transportation Device (FTD) that could successfully reach a specific target when launched. The engineers taught the students the importance of math, science and teamwork when working in aerospace engineering. Congratulations to the winning team, Air Raptors, who took home F-22 models!

Marietta, Georgia
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Marietta employee volunteers participated in a rocket build with 4-H students in Paulding County on October 4.  The students were provided with challenge resources, but they also had to attach a payload (box of raisins) to their airplanes to mimic the C-130 ability to deliver food and other mission cargo.

During the activity students were engaged in learning about topics such as center of gravity, air flow resistance, aerodynamics, payload positioning, and launch angles from Aero volunteers.  As the students launched their airplanes outside they were able to see their initial design prototype in action.  The parents, students, and facilitators of the program, thanked LM volunteers, and showed their appreciation for the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company for sending volunteers to the event.


Students participate in the Fort Worth 4-H National Youth Science Day event guided by Aero employee volunteers in the "Rockets to the Rescue" challenge.

Washington D.C.
On October 8, Lockheed Martin Corporate Headquarters employee volunteers participated in the 4H National Youth Science Day event in Washington D.C.. Sandy Samuel, vice president of Operations at IS&GS Civil represented Lockheed Martin during a panel on STEM solutions as part of the VIP breakfast. The panel also featured Dr. James Gavin, Chief Scientist, Goddard Space Flight System, NASA; Sarah Morton, 4-H Extension Agent, Virginia 4-H; and Linda Rosen, CEO, Change the Equation. The panel was moderated by NBC-4’s Veronica Johnson.  Sandy discussed the imperative of closing the STEM skills gap and what Lockheed Martin is doing to engage young people in STEM.

Following the breakfast, the 4-H National Youth Science Day event kicked-off “Rockets to the Rescue”. 4-H had originally booked a smaller venue for the event, but received so much youth interest (over 300 students), that the event was held at the Verizon Center. Eleven LM volunteers participated in the event, building rockets alongside students. Throughout the morning, students were asking questions about engineering and Lockheed Martin.

The events were a great success and volunteers had a lot of fun inspiring curious young minds throughout the day.

Syracuse, New York
On October 14 and 15, 110 8th grade students from Chestnut Hill Middle School participated in the Rocket Design event for 4-H National Youth Science Day. The event included five sessions over two days where ten Syracuse engineers volunteered their time.

Prior to the two day event, science and technology teachers at the middle school prepped the students in Scientific Inquire and Aerospace Rocket Design in the days leading up to the activity.

 LM volunteers helped facilitate rocket construction, provided experimental design considerations and helped with the rocket flight testing.

Great autumn weather allowed the teams of four to five students to take the activity outside and launch their rockets into the air.

The student teams collected loads of flight data with the teachers planning a more comprehensive follow-up activity during class time.

“The students spent about an hour to design and build their rockets and about half an hour of testing.  We had enough time for each team to test their rockets twice and make adjustments before flying with a payload. I was very impressed by the enthusiasm and critical thinking displayed by these students as they solved the problem given to them,” said Kathie Easom, a systems engineering.

October 27, 2014