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Commence countdown, engines on; rocket project brings Perham students together

Sam Benshoof/FOCUS Perham students attempt to track a launched rocket in the sky on the afternoon of May 18.

Perham students filled the parking lot between Heart of the Lakes Elementary School and the Prairie Wind Middle School on May 18 to bring together science, math and fun.

Students from Jeff Morris's Advanced Placement calculus class and Jennie Melvin's physics class launched several rockets into the sky as elementary school and middle school students looked on.

Senior Alex DeConcini said the idea for launching rockets came from when the physics class watched the film October Sky earlier this year.

Combining the physics of rocket launching with the vectors and velocity that the students were also studying in calculus only made sense, DeConcini said.

"It's a nice project for everyone to do together," senior Isaac Rutten said.

The two classes tried to do the launching in winter, DeConcini said, but the cold and the wind made it too difficult.

The group readied 10 rockets for the launch, with some being more sophisticated than others. All the rockets were ordered on the Internet.

According to DeConcini and Rutten, the most complicated rocket took more than a week to prepare, while some of the simpler rockets took only a few days to get ready.

Middle school and elementary school students seemed to enjoy the event, providing a loud countdown from 10 for every launch.

"It was nice to do it for them," senior Sam Stafki said, referring to the younger students who had the opportunity to watch.

"It shows that science and math are related, and it's a good way to give them something to look forward to in the future," he said.

Morris said that he was looking forward to turning the rocket launching into an annual event.