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Rockets boost learning at Sunnyside High School

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Sunnyside High School student Oscar Noriega prepares his rocket for launch.

Sunnyside High School students are getting hands-on experience in physics this year in a class taught by Spencer Martin.

As part of a course that introduces the concepts of physics in a real-life setting, students started the trimester learning about of flight. Using White Wing paper airplane kits, students learned how mathematics matches up with reality.

After working with the kits, students designed and made their own paper airplanes. That included figuring out the ideal dimensions of their planes using math and knowledge of the physics of flight before building.

Now the students have moved on to rocketry, and launched their first rockets last Friday afternoon at the high school. The rockets were kit-based, but not all flew equally well. Each rocket had to have its payload packed and parachute folded correctly to achieve the best height.

"This is way more fun than paper airplanes," said student Taylor Schroder, one of the first to launch a rocket.

Each student launched a rocket then retrieved the remains that either floated down on a parachute or plummeted down when the parachute failed.

Martin says the class will work on another kit rocket next with a second launch planned for later in the year. A third launch will be optional for students who want to design their own rockets.

But for a brief time last Friday, math and physics were forgotten in the sheer joy of watching rockets reach for the clouds.

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