For the past few weeks, students in Frank Leonard’s Los Banos High School physics class have been building rockets and launching them in the quad.

This interactive assignment has not just allowed students to cooperate with each other to make their own inventions. It has also enabled them to experiment with different designs of rockets to explore the boundaries of physics and enjoy the experience of hands-on learning.

Leonard has five classes of physics, so he is able to connect with his students to launch the rockets throughout the day. Although some of them had not risen as high as anticipated, students still showed excitement as this project fostered friendly competition.

Since the launches were the talk of the school all week, students were thrilled to see how hard work, creativity and fun can come together to build a rocket. Not only has this integrated the laws of physics, such as Newton’s laws of drag and thrust, but it has also empowered students to believe that they can achieve what they set their mind to.

One student believed that physics was a difficult subject to grasp, but through assignments such as the rocket launch felt that the material was able to be understood in small pieces that were much easier to understand.

“Although physics may seem intimidating at first,” the student said, “when it is applied to real life, you can see that it is practical and more comprehensible.”

In addition, students were able to develop skills such as resourcefulness to create their rockets using common materials. This skill is not just helpful in school, but it is a great tool to utilize when developing other projects and to act upon in real-life.

Before any rockets were launched, the Los Banos Fire Department was notified to be on alert for possible flying flaming objects in the air, although no problems were experienced.

This project brought Los Banos High School students closer together through friendly competition, enabled excitement to ripple throughout campus and made students more excited and engaged in their learning.

Student, Angel Hernandez Mendoza uses a device to determine the measure the distance of the rockets. Gene Lieb/The Express Photo captions
Teacher Frank Leonard explains to students how to use a clinometer to determine the height of a rocket. Gene Lieb/The Express Photo captions