The Sun News

Summer camp allows students to explore space and rockets

Exploring the final frontier and designing the rockets that would take them there was the theme for the Museum of Aviation’s Space and Rocketry Camp last week for pre-K through high school students.

Pre-K through second-graders jumped on “stomp rockets” to blast off into the air outside.

“It was awesome,” 6-year-old Keaton Jackson said. Stomping on the rocket was his favorite part of the week.

Launching rockets was high on 7-year-old Ty Kirchner’s list as well.

Ty, a student at Bonaire Elementary, also learned about black holes.

“It can suck most everything in it,” he said.

For the third- through fifth-grade students, Dawn Hardy was using roller coasters as a guide to how NASA measures the effects of g-force.

“It is rocket science,” Hardy said.

Each roller coaster was made from paper, duct tape, scotch tape and imagination.

Building the roller coaster helped the children to learn structural stability, design and gain an understanding of how the force of motion works, Hardy said.

One roller coaster, being built by 8-year-old Timothy Lane Zayaz, was called “Momentum Madness.” Timothy had created a drawing of his roller coaster before starting work on the structure. He was inspired by going to Legoland and riding two roller coasters this summer.

Joshua Griffis also rode a roller coaster at Legoland.

“I just made this one scary looking,” the 8-year-old fourth-grader from Bonaire Elementary said.

In the former transporter ride was a new classroom for the museum.

Mike Cushman, who also runs the flight simulator program at the museum, was teaching the students about engineering challenges.

Students there built a lunar landing pod, an SR-71 Blackbird out of foam and rocket cars.

“We fully allow them to make their own choices. We are teaching real world,” Cushman said.

Hunter Swinford, 13, who attends Rutland Middle School, won the contest for his Blackbird flying the farthest June 5.

“I think it won by the angle and the way it was built,” Swinford said.

Though he might have engineered the fastest model out of his class of about 20 students, he is considering engineering as a fallback to his original passion, which is video game design.

Each week, the museum has a different option for students including crime solving, website design, engineering and mad scientists.

For more information, call 478-222-7575 or visit