A teacher from Mountain Creek State School (located near Mooloolaba on the QLD Sunshine Coast) had been in contact with the Queensland Rocketry Society since February 2009. Regular discussions culminated to this very special rocketry day on Wednesday 2nd December. Students from two classes had built total of 56 rockets that were supplied by Suburban Rocketry earlier in the year. The 2nd December was the big day that everyone had been looking forward to – launch day!
Ari Piirainen, Petar Nikolic and Blake Nikolic headed off to Mountain Creek State School just after 7:00am in order to arrive by 9am. It was going to be a long day, helping 56 students to prepare and check their rockets for launch. The weather was quite windy but manageable, with cloud cover helping to keep the temperature down.
Proceedings started as a few of the classes got a brief lecture about rocketry from Petar and Ari.
Ari was the designated Range Safety Office (RSO), but unfortunately, Blake had to take over this role later on as Ari wasn’t feeling very well. Meanwhile, Petar and Blake were helping the students fold parachutes, pack wadding, load motors, install igniters and mount the prepared rockets on the launch pads. Rockets were launching continuously from two launch pads located on the school oval.
Although none of the students had ever built or flown any rockets before, we were totally surprised to achieve a flight success rate of around 80%.
Class after class kept coming to watch the launches. You could hear the countdown being called from everyone around the oval. Over 1,200 students attend Mountain Creek State School and at least half of them came to witness the rocket launching action.
We managed to launch all 56 rockets in about two and half hours, including all pre-flight preparations and recovery. The whole day ran real smoothly. Ari, Blake and Petar didn’t get home until 4:00pm that afternoon. I was a full day and really worth the volunteer effort.
Two local newspapers reported this special event, and there’s no doubt about what many of the students were talking about over the dinner that night.
The Queensland Rocketry Society visited 11 schools in 2009. The club’s school visitation program is destined to be even bigger in 2010!