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LLTC STEM Rocket Team competes! View Full Blog


LLTC STEM Rocket Team Members - Ira Keezer, Kelly Nipp (Advisor), Allison Goodshield, and Jeff Brown

The LLTC STEM Rocket team has worked on their rockets since January and spent many hours on getting them ready for the competition.  The rockets were assembled with epoxy and screws and then sanded and painted to give them a quality look for the competition.  Through this process students become connected to the rocket and ultimately learn how all of the components fit together to make a successful rocket.

The competition was to have a climate change experiment involved in your flight.  LLTC tested the temperature of the surrounding air using Raven Featherweight Altimeters that were contained in the payload bay.  With the altimeters the students were able to also deploy the parachutes at set heights so the rockets were recovered safely.

  • Team built one 3” Wildman dual deploy rockets that were 8 ft. tall for the competition.
  • Last year’s 3” Wildman dual deploy was also taken to the competition and fitted with new electronics.

The team used RockSim9 to calculate the projected rocket path after launch and to predict maximum height, velocity, and acceleration.  RockSim9 can also be adjusted to take into account the current weather conditions that are on the launch pad.

  • Using RockSim9, the altimeters requires students to have computer programming skills as they need to download the programs, program them correctly, and then run the data through the programs.  Computer skills are a big part of our rocket program as there are electronics involved that if programmed wrong will not get the rocket launched or returned safely to the ground.

For the competition the students took both Wildman rockets and had to give a power point presentation to the other groups and NASA judges.  This forces the students to verbally describe what they did during the build and defend their rockets stability before they were allowed to fly.  This portion of the competition is a good learning experience as it involves public speaking.

The day before the competition the students were allowed to work on their rocket and get all of the electronics ready for the next day.  During this time the students prepared their rocket so they would be ready to launch right when we got to the launch pad.  Also, the team spent their extra time helping other teams get their rockets ready as some still needed assembly and paint. 

On launch day the team left the hotel early and arrived at the launch area before the other teams to be one of the first to launch.  At the launch area the team prepared both rockets for back to back flights.  For their effort the team launched 2nd and 4th as other teams were still working on their rockets.  Once the team finished the first two launches the decision was made to launch multiple times and the team prepared to launch the rockets again.  In order to do this the team had to repack the parachutes and go over the electronics to check if any of the wires had come loose.  With a team effort the team was able to launch 5 times and showed they could work together well to make the launches possible.

The results:

  • Launch #1 – Rocket went 8800ft and main chute failed to deploy but recovery was successful under the drogue chute.
  • Launch #2 – Rocket went 7000ft and both parachutes deployed and recovery was successful.
  • Launch #3 – Rocket went to 11000ft and both parachutes deployed and recovery was successful.
  • Launch #4 – Rocket went to 13000ft and drogue failed to deploy and main parachute was destroyed upon deploying.  This failure made the rocket collapse upon impacting the ground and the rocket was destroyed.  Upon examining the remains we found the altimeters failed to fire the drogue charges which led to the main parachute being deployed to high of a speed.
  • Launch #5 – Rocket went to 8000ft and both parachutes deployed and recovery was successful.

For the awards part of the competition:

  • Leech Lake won second in the predicting of the height portion. 
  • Leech Lake won second overall for the power point presentation, flight, and launch portion of the competition. 
  • Leech Lake was voted and awarded the BEST SPIRIT award by all of the other teams as they had showed what it was like to be a TEAM.  This was the award that the team felt meant the most as it showed what LLTC was really about.  Building the rocket is a good accomplishment but coming together as a team and demonstrating leadership skills was what we feel is important to our rocket program.  For this award LLTC was given a plaque with simulated moon dust that has been used by NASA and is rarely handed out to the public. 

The team will be working on recruiting new members that will start in the Fall of 2014 so we have a head start on the rocket build.  Students interested in joining our club should contact Kelly Nipp or a team member as this is an exciting opportunity that students can become a part of.  As our program builds we have been getting recognized for more of our contributions to the education of Native American students in the area of computers, sciences, and mathematics.  The Rocket Club welcomes new members as knowledge of the rockets is to be shared among all and group learning is what the club is all about.  Through the club students can expect to learn how to build rockets, program various electronics with a computer, calculate mathematical events, and develop leadership skills that make them better.

Click to view one of the launches! LAUNCH!