Rocket Launchers

Camp Description

Rocket Launchers will introduce participants to the engineering process via applied projects. Campers will explore basic engineering concepts as they develop, design, and construct air-powered airplanes and model rockets. Participants will be trained in the use of RocSim, a software used to analyze the performance of rocket-powered vehicles.  Projects will be tested, evaluated, and launched in a competitive setting.  Campers are encouraged to reach for the sky as they work individually and in teams, learn and apply structural design and aerodynamic engineering principals, think critically, and work on communication and project leadership roles. 

Camp Overview

Structural Design
Participants exercise creativity and innovation by designing and constructing a structure with a single sheet of paper.  Next, campers are challenged with a group project to design and build a structure using the K'Nex system. The success of this task will rely on teamwork, communication, vision, and construction skills.  Campers get a brief overview of the basic engineering principles (Statics) that govern the design of buildings. Balance of forces and moments will be discussed. Videos and images of successful, as well as catastrophic structural designs will be presented. 
Aerodynamics and Rockets

We live in an era where GPS technology is available on every smart phone. However, the constellations of satellites that control GPS systems had to be placed in orbit by powerful rockets. Hobby rockets are an excellent tool to learn about aerodynamic forces and stability. The most demanding segment of the camp will require for campers to learn to use the RocSim software to design and analyze rockets. The first task will be to use the computer to model a commercial hobby rocket kit, which each participant will then have to construct and decorate. The next task requires teams of future engineers to design and model a rocket from scratch. Once the instructor is satisfied that the computer simulations validate the design, each team will be allowed to build the rocket. The third stage involves the design, simulation, and construction of a multi-stage rocket. Again, the design will have to be verified by the instructor before the team is allowed to build the rocket. All the rockets will be launched on the last day of the camp. Only safe rockets will be allowed in the launch pads.

Aerodynamic principles will be discussed. Emphasis will be placed on stability and videos showing catastrophic results of rockets that lose stability will be shown. The RocSim software is a standard tool for hobby rocketeers who want more than commercial hobby kits. Students will be trained in the use of this software to validate the aerodynamic stability of their designs. Campers will have to demonstrate via computer simulations that their rockets will be safe to launch. The construction of these rockets will require precise measurements and careful attention to the construction of their rockets. A safe rocket is not only aerodynamically stable, but also structurally sound.

Activities described are general topics and are subject to change at the instructor’s discretion. The University reserves the right to cancel programs that do not meet minimum enrollment.