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At Granby Elementary School, it is rocket science

Granby Elementary School sixth graders began the school year as students and transformed into rocket scientists during the first month of class.

Granby Elementary School sixth grader Connor Anderson takes measurements as he assembles a rocket as part of a science unit. He and his classmates launched rockets in the field next to the school Thursday morning.
Granby Elementary School sixth grader Connor Anderson takes measurements as he assembles a rocket as part of a science unit. He and his classmates launched rockets in the field next to the school Thursday morning.

According to sixth grade teacher Joe McNamara, the unit about rocketry and Newton’s Laws of Motion serves as a great “launching pad” for the entire school year.

“As fifth graders last year, many of these students watched the older kids launch rockets,” McNamara said. “They’ve been looking forward to this since Day 1.”

The multifaceted learning experience called for students to utilize knowledge and skills in a variety of subject areas.

They followed instructions, identified different rocket components (engine mount, fins, igniter, body tube, launch lug), engineered their rockets, worked as a team, analyzed their findings and wrote a news article about the launch.

From left, sixth graders Brian Sullivan, Patrick McLellan and Wesley VanBuren are all smiles as they talk about the successful rocket launches Thursday at Granby Elementary School.
From left, sixth graders Brian Sullivan, Patrick McLellan and Wesley VanBuren are all smiles as they talk about the successful rocket launches Thursday at Granby Elementary School.

“It is much more than a fun rocket launch,” McNamara said. “The kids get so much out of this experience; they make inferences, they combine English, science and math, and really engage in critical thinking that aligns with the Common Core curriculum.”

That fact was obvious as students Mackenzie Treneer, Alisha Dashaw and Leah Kingsbury put the finishing touches on their rockets while reciting Newton’s Three Laws of Motion: “An object at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it … an object in motion will stay in motion unless an external force acts upon it. Force is equal to mass times acceleration of an object. And for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” the trio said in unison.

Students watch as the rocket soars into the sky during the annual rocket launches at Granby Elementary School.
Students watch as the rocket soars into the sky during the annual rocket launches at Granby Elementary School.

Putting their classroom knowledge and rocket building skills to the test, each sixth grade science class took its shot launching rockets Thursday morning, recording their observations and troubleshooting any issues they came across.

Despite some early difficulties with faulty igniters, the field next to the school turned into the Cape Canaveral of Central New York, as dozens of rockets shot into the sky.

“This is awesome,” sixth grader Wesley VanBuren said as he retrieved his rocket. “It snapped in half when it landed. I can’t believe it went that far!”

Granby Elementary students react as one of the rockets climbs high into the air outside of the school Thursday morning.
Granby Elementary students react as one of the rockets climbs high into the air outside of the school Thursday morning.