Students Launch Stomp Rockets for SBIRS STEM Outreach
On Tuesday, January 17 — two days prior to the SBIRS launch – the SBIRS launch team went back to middle school. About 25 Lockheed Martin employees and half a dozen representatives from the U.S. Air Force SMC customer, including Col. Bythewood, visited Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School to lead a “Launch and Learn” science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) event for 55 seventh and eighth grade students in the school’s International Baccalaureate program.
The event kicked off with SBIRS Program Manager Dave Sheridan giving a quick overview of Lockheed Martin. He asked the students what they knew about space and satellites and reviewed how they benefit from space products and technologies almost daily. Next, Sheridan connected those space technologies and programs to what SSC does, and handed it over to Col. Bythewood to share what the SBIRS constellation’s mission areas are and how the Air Force will use it to keep us safe. Having leaders from both Lockheed Martin and the Air Force SMC give a joint presentation on their programs and how the teams work together was a great example of teamwork for the students.
After the presentation, students and volunteers went outside to team up in small groups to learn about rocket design, launch trajectories and the science behind space through the making and testing of stomp rockets. The students had the chance to design, test, re-design and re-test their rockets. They launched the rockets across a basketball court by jumping on a water bottle attached to a PVC pipe “launcher.” They learned about propulsion, physics and aerodynamics while also having fun in the process.
In addition to the school visit, Lockheed Martin hosted five teachers from Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School for the launch. Although the launch was scrubbed the first night, the teachers were excited for the opportunity to return on Friday to see it go and witness the real-world applications of the STEM-focused subjects they teach.
Lockheed Martin Space System’s Launch and Learn program creates a volunteer opportunity for the employees who travel with the program to the launch, and also invites members of a local school or nonprofit to join the launch activities as Lockheed Martin’s guest. Lockheed Martin volunteers partner with local schools or nonprofits to spark an interest in STEM and space-related careers for local students and re-ignite a passion for STEM with local teachers.
Interview with Dave Sheridan