Alamo Heights high school students earn award for WSMR rocket launch
Second year in a row students designed, built, launched at White Sands Missile Range
Students in Colin Lang’s Rocketry class at Alamo Heights High School received the Diamond Award from SystemsGo.
This summer, students in Colin Lang’s Rocketry classes traveled with their teacher and supporters to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. This was Alamo Heights’ fifth trip to WSMR. For the second year in a row, both of their vehicles successfully left the launch tower. Here is the launch report:
Alamo Heights rocket #1–Reached an altitude of 10,082 feet before having a catastrophic burn through of the fuel grain.
Alamo Heights rocket #2–Departed the rail, but immediately had a side body blowout (possibly same fuel grain failure as their #1 rocket, but much earlier in flight).
The performance of the rockets and the students were significant enough to earn the SystemsGo Goddard Level Diamond Award.
“This demonstrates the ability of high school students to design and build a vehicle and launch it at WSMR,” said Gene Garrett, Captain U.S.N. (Ret), President of the SystemsGo board. “Alamo Heights should be proud. This shows the ability to take knowledge and research and put it together into a project, and be successful.”
The classes are part of a state-wide STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) curriculum called SystemsGo, a “project based” approach to learning. As they advance through the program, students start by building small model rockets as they learn the principles of flight. They move up in scale to vehicles that launch a one-pound payload one mile high. The next level involves reaching the sound barrier. The highest level–Goddard–requires students to design and build a rocket that launches at the U.S. Army run WSMR facility. Alamo Heights was one of only five high schools qualified to travel to WSMR.
Lang teaches all levels of the program, culminating in Rocketry I and II. Every year teams from 50 Texas high schools travel to Fredericksburg or Houston to launch those rockets. Lang cited the support his students receive from the community, including Gates Manufacturing, Dr. Kenneth Maverick, Texas Biomedical Research Foundation, the Alamo Heights Education Foundation, and parents.
The program has been featured on NBC Nightly News, is endorsed by NASA and certified by The Space Foundation. It is now used in 47 high schools in Texas, and is expanding to New Mexico this school year.