Saturday , 26 May 2018

Johnson Middle School Launches Rocketry Program

“We want to get kids interested in science and math,” says Jack Sprague of the Dallas Area Rocket Society (DARS). “And, there’s nothing that grabs kids’ interest more than a little fire and smoke.” Sprague along with two of his DARS colleagues visited Scott Johnson Middle School during lunch on Thursday, December 8, to give students a small taste of the spectacle and science of rocketry.

Brown bag lunches in hand, the students gathered at the south end of the school’s football field to observe as Sprague sent 10-15 rockets skyward for each lunch group. And, while these Class 1 model rockets offer a restrained amount of pyrotechnic display, few can deny the sheer fun of watching skillfully designed cardboard tubes blasting into the atmosphere.

DARS member Jack Sprague instructs Scott Johnson Middle School students on rocketryJack Sprague of the Dallas Area Rocket Society holds a model rocket engine aloft as he instructs students during a launch demonstration at Scott Johnson Middle School in McKinney on December 8.

A model rocket lifts off.Ignition! A model rocket lifts off at Scott Johnson Middle School.

The event was organized by Scott Johnson Middle School Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher Dellen Gibson to launch the school’s new SJMS Rocketry Group. Participation is voluntary, and students work on the projects during lunch or after school; one club goal is to see the middle school’s ten-person 7th grade team and nine-member 8th grade team compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), a national competition for students in grades 7-12. TARC poses the following challenge to student teams: build a rocket, load it with two raw eggs, launch it at least 800 feet into the air, keep it airborne for 43 to 47 seconds — and bring the eggs back in one piece. The top 100 teams will have the opportunity to compete in the National Finals on May 12, 2012 in our nation’s capital.

Another, more important goal of the SJMS Rocketry Group is to provide an engaging environment in which to nurture students’ natural inquisitiveness and talent as they apply technology, science and engineering principles to the design and construction of their projects. The club fits alongside other CTE opportunities that allow the school’s students to explore areas such as robotics and current technology issues such as cyber security. It’s all part of a larger effort to encourage kids to embrace the challenges of those disciplines enthusiastically, to prepare them for a world that needs engineers and creative thinkers, visionaries who can push technology forward in a way that makes a profound and positive impact. In short, to inspire them to aim high.

And nothing punctuates that sentiment more dramatically than a rocket soaring into the sky.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Specialist, at 469-742-4007 or

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