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Rocketry camp is a blast for children

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WEST CARTHAGE — For seven boys in the greater Carthage area, summer is a blast.

They are learning how to design, build and fly rockets all week at Edge on Science’s Summer Rocket Camp at Donald F. Getman Memorial Park.

John Aviste founded Edge on Science earlier this year to get more children interested in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — courses.

“If you don’t get them hooked on technology at this age, they are less likely to become interested when they are in high school,” he said.

On Wednesday, they were learning the disadvantages of a larger rocket body. Although some of the boys wanted to make the biggest rocket in the room, Mr. Aviste told them those rockets would not go as high because the extra weight would cause drag. They busied themselves sanding down the body of the rocket and, with the help of Mr. Aviste’s daughter, Rosemary P., cut it to their ideal size with X-Acto knives. As the day went on, the children also had to find a way for a pinky-finger-sized camera to be attached to the rocket.

Before the launch today, students will have to find out the wind speed, air pressure and elevation over sea level, just like at a real space shuttle launch.

“It’s real,” Mr. Aviste said.

As the children sanded down the rocket fins, some of them began discussing the designs they would paint on them.

Aiden A. Gold, 10, wanted to paint flames on the bottom and “spike balls” toward the rocket nose. “I’m really more of an engineer,” he said. “This is my thing.”

Lindsey H. Merritt, 10, was less enthusiastic when he started but loved it after the first class Monday. “My mom made me, but I like it, so I’m glad she made me,” he said.

Putting the rocket together made sense because he loves building with Legos, he said, but getting the engine set up was the most difficult part so far.

For Mr. Aviste, the struggles the boys go through this week could help create innovations in national security and the economy. A civil engineer by trade, he has been hired by schools over the past 15 years to teach students about solar energy, rocketry and simple machinery.

“We’re starting to see a shortage of people who are technologically able,” he said. “It’s a competition, the way I see it. Just think about how quickly technology advances.”

For more information on Edge on Science, visit www.edgeonscience.com.

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