Students at New Diana High School in East Texas are building a rocket that will go 19 miles high and travel at three times the speed of sound. New Diana is among nine schools in Texas to receive clearance from NASA to build a rocket that will be launched at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in May or June.
The schools are part of a program called Systems Go, created by a Texas science teacher. New Diana physics teacher Shawn Warden spent two summers in Systems Go training. She aims to take a hands-off approach in allowing her 17 students to develop the calculations and build the rocket from scratch.
“They had to determine how much mass the rocket had. They had to determine the impulse, which means how much force applied over a given time that will cause the rocket to go up like they want it to. They took all these equations and created a spreadsheet and we went to NASA, and NASA approved the spreadsheet," Warden said, a science teacher for more than 20 years.
Project manager Daniel Lee, a senior, found that the rocketry class made a big impression on his college applications. He said complex equations serve as the blueprint for building the rocket.
“When you type in all the equations you realize, wow, we’re doing college math and college science. It’s crazy to think we’re just high school students and we’re able to do this kind of stuff and be able to find out these calculations," Lee said.
Warden just wants to put her students on a path to becoming tomorrow's scientists and engineers.
“If I can get the kids to learn to think, then, when they graduate from my room as a senior, they’re going to go out and change the world," Warden said.
The students have raised nearly $15,000 to fund the program at New Diana ISD. Lee said when they travel to New Mexico for the launch, their goal is for the rocket to return intact, so they can pass their knowledge on to next year’s rocketry class.