Our next scheduled launch and NRC event will be on 22 June in Acton.

CMASS Flag 3

                                  Check your email for information about our upcoming video meetings

Sign up for something on the Launch Duty List

Check GO/NO GO status call or text our Launch Hotline: 857-24-CMASS (857-242-6277)
after 7 AM the day of scheduled launch

Watch for upcoming opportunities to volunteer and help keep our
club launches going

page 2024 20240607 2084774565In many ways, this was a normal Rocketry Unit at the Page School. This was our 15th year and we have had so much experience with the program now, that much of it has now become routine. And by 'routine', I don't mean boring or blah, but in the sense that many tasks have worked their way into muscle memory and get done almost without thinking about it.

The class size this year was again 40 students, with the same two homerooms taught by John Benvenuti and Trina Forrest. John's homeroom built the Thing-a-ma-jig and Trina's built the same tube fin rocket prepared for us by FlisKits as we used last year. The tube fin kit is essentially a Razor clone; goes together very easily and flies well. It hasn't made it into the FlisKits catalog yet. Although Ray DiPaola promises me that it will soon.

We always start the unit with a prebuild session. The prebuild session is where a few students stay after school and help page 2024 20240607 1350978492assemble parachutes, streamers, motor packets, fill glue bottles, prep each kit for the build session, and decorate the room with rocketry pictures and some of my rockets that I bring in. These students volunteer, and so are usually the better students in the class. So, the session usually goes pretty well, and so it did this year.

As usual for the build, I demonstrate how various parts go together - the 'dry-fit', with the kids just watching. The kids then do the same dry-fit and if all parts fit together nicely, we follow it with glue. In the middle of build session, we stop to allow the glue to set on the parts that were constructed so far, and I give a short lesson in rocketry, triangulation, some basic physics and show a few rocketry Youtube videos. We had about two hours this year for the build which was enough time for both. Nothing surprising happened and both rockets went together very well.

Launch day always starts in John's homeroom. We have all the students prep their rockets for their first flight, with an A8-3 motor and parachute. We go over the procedure and rules for the launch, and the teams fill out their launch card. We then head down to the launch field. The Page School is lucky in that there is a large soccer field across the road from the school that is a 10 minute walk. We even have a town Patrol Officer act as crossing guard - the benefits of living in a small town. We had six proctors for the launch, John as LCO, Trina helping students at the tracking station, three teacher aids helping at the reload table and general crowd control and myself as RSO and fixing problems and answering questions as needed. We had about 20 to 30 parents attending this year. Launch day was predicted to be hot - and it was. By 10:00 the temperature was already above 80°F with a bright sun. The teachers were a little nervous about the sun and temperature, stressing that the kids needed hats, sunscreen and to drink water. Luckily one of the parents brought bottled water and that helped a lot.

Each team launched their rocket twice, first on an A8-3, second on a B6-4. The teams use an Estes Altitrak and stopwatch to measure how high their rockets flew and average velocity at the tracking station 200 ft away from the launch pad. The rockets recover via chute on the A motor and then on a streamer for the B motor. Each year we get a big 'Wow!' from the kids and parents when we launch the first B motor. They are just amazed at how high it goes. It's great to hear and never gets old! The temperature that day was indeed a factor and it made it difficult for many of the kids to stay focused. The wind was the other factor. It was moderate to strong for most of the launch and blowing in the wrong direction, across the short width of the field. We ended up losing six of the rockets to the trees or the tall grass in the field to the east of our launch field. But I actually think that was pretty good; it could have been a lot worse. We always bring a few extra built rockets to the launch, so in the instance of lost rockets on the first launch, the kids can use one of spares for their second launch.

Three of the students brought their own rockets and launched them after all of the required launches were done. We had them announce their rocket and push the launch button. They all enjoyed that. I launched two of my own: LOC's Cool Spool and my Frick-n-Frack. The Cool Spool went up on an F50 motor, which is loud and the kids really loved that! We also launched two rockets I built for the teachers, 'Mr. B's Rocket' (Mad Cow's Momba) and Mrs. Forest's Rocket' (Estes Galaxy (?)). Finally, we launched six Thing-a-ma-jig's each with two 80 ft. streamers attached to its fins. We used the school colors, green and white again this year. However, because of the wind, a number of streamers tore at lift off - but it was still a hit. We took our group shot, cleaned up the field and the kids headed back to school. That afternoon, they finished their calculations and completed a writing and drawing assignments for the. After all of the assignments have been graded, John and Trina will give them to me to look at. My summer reading! Pictures are in the Gallery.

I want to end with a fond farewell and congratulations to John Benvenuti, who after a 30 year teaching career is retiring to start his second act. I first met John, when he was Katy's 6th grade teacher and have been working with him ever since both with the Rocketry Unit and giving some science lectures to his class during the school year. I have always had a great respect and admiration for John and have learned a great deal about teaching just from observing him with his students. Every once in a while, you meet someone that is doing exactly what he/she should be doing. That is John and teaching; it's his essence. In many ways I think of John as Charles Chipping (Chips) of 'Goodbye Mr. Chips'. After teaching 30 years at the Page School, John has become synonymous with the Page just as Chips was synonymous with Brookfield. John didn't teach three generations of Colley's, nor marry Greer Garson, but he was dedicated to his students and loved by them - just as was Chips! John will be missed by many, especially me. Goodbye Mr. B.