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UTSI Students and Professor Share Rocket Science with Kindergarteners

Kindergarteners at Hickerson Station Elementary School recently fired straw and pop rockets during a visit by Trevor Moeller of Manchester and three graduate students from The University of Tennessee Space Institute.

Their teacher, Diane Anderson, scheduled “Space Week” for her students and invited UTSI to participate. She and the youngsters have been corresponding with Astronaut Heidi Maria Stefanyshyn-Piper, who is scheduled to be aboard a future shuttle launch.

Moeller, research associate professor, accompanied by Sonya Nelson of Wisconsin, Ashley Owens of Martin, Tenn., and Jeffrey King of Memphis shared information about rockets with the 14 children. (One member of the class, Blake Patterson, was absent.) Ms. Nelson had made “pop” rockets for each child, and before launching them, the children colored various designs on their rockets.

In the classroom, Moeller demonstrated a model of a high-powered rocket and responded to numerous questions by the kindergarteners.

Outside, each student took turns firing “pop” rockets – small paper tubes with a cap filled with water and alka seltzer to provide the lift-off power. Next, each student fired a “straw” rocket made from plastic straws.

“Our students are still excited and talking about your visit,” Ms. Anderson wrote Moeller the day after the August visit. “Who knows? I may be teaching a future astronaut.” She thanked him and the students for “the time and effort that you put into this lesson for my kindergarteners.”

Each child also sent brief messages, thanking Moeller and the students.