Launching bottle rockets to celebrate the end of the school year is a long-standing fifth grade tradition at Hockinson Heights Elementary School. About 140 fifth grade students took part in the event this year, including students enrolled in Hockinson Virtual Academy, who were also encouraged to participate.
In order to set up the event, students first had to build their rockets over the course of about three weeks. The process began with students bringing in their own two-liter bottles for the bodies of the rockets, while the school provided cut pipes and fins. Students then constructed the rockets in class and were able to take home their creations to decorate before bringing them back to school for the launch. Finally, the rockets were filled partially with water and taken to a contraption called the apparatus to have each rocket filled by an air compressor and shot upwards one at a time.
Students' bottle rockets being partially filled with water
During the event, a student named Serena explained how she enjoyed learning about the way air pressure fills the bottle rockets so that she could use science to launch her rocket, Bluey, into the sky and see just how high it could go. Judging by their excited gasps, the other students agreed that being able to launch the rockets was the best part. Students also had a good time painting their creations, as evidenced by the thought and care put into the designs.
Serena and her bottle rocket, Bluey
In addition to being a lot of fun, the annual event is educational. Building the bottle rockets requires students to learn about engineering and aerodynamics—it’s important to think about how and where to attach the fins to the bottle and to ensure that there are no holes so the air pressure can build up. Overall, students need to consider what they can do to make their rockets go as high and as far as possible.
The bottle rocket launch tradition will continue next year to blend fun and education for Hockinson students.