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Rocket science brings rural students to Fairbanks

Submitted by Amy Hartley
Phone: (907) 474-5823


Alaska Native students from Galena, Koyukuk, Nome, Shishmaref and Venetie will visit the University of Alaska Fairbanks to learn about rocket science and weather instrumentation during a two-day Science and Math Enrichment Program that begins Wednesday, May 5.

The International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at UAF has partnered with the Geophysical Institute (GI) to help middle-schoolers understand how science and math problem solving aid the research of aurora, the weather, and climate change.

Participants have been working throughout the school year with the Aurora Alive curriculum, developed by the GI Information and Education Outreach Office. Rocket building and launching, the construction of weather instruments, and a tour of Poker Flat Research Range are all part of the Science and Math Enrichment Program at UAF this year.

"We focus on having hands-on activities that are very interactive and that will cater to a variety of learning styles," said Lori Schoening, Education and Assessment Coordinator. "We ask scientists to lead these activities, so students can develop mentor relationships with them."

CONTACT: Amy Hartley, IARC/GI Information Officer: (907) 474-5823

The media are invited to visit with students, teachers, scientists and staff during the rocket building session, the weather instrument session, the student rocket launch, and during the rocket math activity. Please note the time and location of these events on the following SMEP schedule.

Media are invited to attend the following Science and Math Enrichment Program Sessions:

Wednesday, May 5

8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Rocket Building (GI Globe Room, West Ridge, UAF): Students will build miniature rockets, based on the design of those launched to study the aurora from Poker Flat Research Range. They also will make their own height-o-meters, which will be used later in the day to determine how high the rockets fly. Alaska Space Grant Program Director Neal Brown guides the Rocket Building session. Brown directed Poker Flat Research Range for 23 years and is an expert on the aurora.

Weather Instruments (IARC Lobby, West Ridge, UAF): Students will rotate through three weather instrument stations. National Weather Service Forecaster Eric Stevens leads the psychrometer activity, Atmospheric Scientist Martha Schulski will lead the anemometer activity, and teacher Gary Cooper will facilitate a thermometer activity. Students will construct their own instrument at each station.

1:30 to 3 p.m.
Rocket Launch (Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, across from the Georgeson Botanical Gardens, UAF): Student will be divided into groups and rotate through three activities. The first group of students will launch rockets, while the second group measures the height of the rockets' flight with height-o-meters. The third group will record the time of the rockets' flight with stopwatches.

4 to 4:30 p.m.
Rocket Math Activity (IARC Lobby and IARC 417): During this activity students use math formulas to determine their rocket's altitude, velocity, acceleration, and force.

*A media release form is on file for each of the children participating in SMEP 2004*

Amy Hartley, IARC/GI Information Officer: (907) 474-5823, amy.hartley@gi.alaska.edu