Rockets to Mars

Published 9:26 am Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cameron Francis, 11, of Southampton County, right, and Jacquelyn Vari, 11, of Suffolk with their rocket during an enrichment program at Windsor High School. -- Merle Monahan | Tidewater News

The last of five rockets is launched. -- Merla Monahan | Tidewater News


WINDSOR—If a group of Tidewater Regional Governor’s School gifted students continues its course, there will be no shortage of engineers and astronauts for future space programs.

Sixty-three fourth-graders from Suffolk, Franklin, and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, four teachers and the governor’s school director spent July 21 through Thursday at Windsor High School involved in an enrichment program in which the students explored the needs of sending humans to Mars.

“They came up with some very interesting projects,” said Director Liz Petry. “Some of them included a study of rockets/shuttles, rovers, exercise needs, habitats, nutrition concerns and energy sources.”

Students participated in a videoconference with Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and visited NASA Langley in Hampton and the Virginia Air and Space Museum, where they participated in a classroom simulation of launching a rocket to Mars.

Students in teams of three also researched, planned, created and finalized a project relating to humans living on Mars.

Two groups developed replicas of the planet, showing a red surface with red rocks and a tiny rover — one with two tiny astronauts and another made the actual rocket perched on its pad ready to launch.

Another group was processing and packaging food for the trip.

When the projects were near completion, students and teachers assembled them on the football field, where the teachers launched five rockets.

Rockets ranged from a water blaster powered by water to two called Baby Bertha and Big Bertha fueled by combustion engines.

The final two were combustion engine egg launchers; one was homemade and the other was purchased; it was called the Eggscaliber. Petry said the rockets, each of which had an egg attached, were so named because they were designed to determine the severity of the landing.

All rockets were successfully launched with little damage.