By Bethan L. Jones/ Staff Writer
Thursday, July 14, 2005
It's not often that parents encourage their offspring to light fires or blow things up.
in the Lexplorations summer program Rocketry and Space, however, have
the rare opportunity to experience a week of rocket construction which
culminates with explosions.
their classroom at the Clarke Middle School, the 15 students, all who
will be going into the fifth grade in September, are set up in groups
of three or four to share glue and scissors, the important tools for
building their alpha rockets.
rocket construction time begins after lunch, a state of organized chaos
breaks out. Puneet Harisinghani, 10, and Anthony Fabbo, 9, begin by
poking each other in the head with the pointed noses of their rockets.
Colarusso, a physics teacher at Lexington High School during the
academic year, calls attention to the front of the room as he explains
the first step of the day's construction, which is placing the engine
mount inside the cardboard body of the rockets.
can't wait until they explode," said Phillip Ballo, 10, a Harrington
Elementary School student. Ballo is at a table of four, three of whom
are fellow Harrington students.
has had some previous experience with rockets, having attended a camp
at the Museum of Science in Boston. Ballo said, however, the rocket
presently in several pieces on his desk is not the same kind he has
used before. This unfamiliar territory created some confusion with the
directions, but "Mr. C" managed to clear things up.
sort of easy," said Ballo, adding his rocket can take on a new life
when camp is over on Friday. "The rockets are reusable so I can just
put in another motor."
the table Harisinghani and Daniel Loran, 10, are having a tough time
attaching the parachute cord to the nose of the rocket. While Colarusso
patiently explained the process, the two needed to see the
demonstration of folding the paper around the elastic cord one more
"Easier said than done," said Loran, he hands covered with glue.
figuring out how to follow the directions, the four boys chat about the
various things they have learned in a day and a half of camp.
think that Galileo guy was pretty cool," said Loran, with the other
boys nodding and agreeing before they all start singing the Mario
Brothers game theme song.
rocketry class is one of several programs offered by Lexington
Community Education through Lexplorations, which offers fun summer
classes for kids. Along with building their rockets, the students also
learn about light, space and basic physics. Three days end with paper
airplane competitions in categories like distance and time aloft. Of
course, the highlight of the program is at the end of the week when the
rockets are set off on one of the playing fields.
Smith, 10, on this day is in the midst of building his rocket. New to
Lexington, he and his family just moved from Washington state. He will
attend Hastings Elementary School in the fall. Smith has two rockets at
home and is excited the class is helping him better understand them.
"It's really fun," said Smith. "It's cool to know how something works."
his yellow and black parachute in the air, Smith said how he has
enjoyed hanging out with his classmates, who are almost all boys, and
learning about the various topic covered under the broad umbrella of
rocketry and space, especially enjoying pretending to be a wave of
"I like Mr. C. He makes everything fun," said Smith. "He's a really great teacher."
the completion of the rocket building for the day, Colarusso has a
demonstration with mirrors to illustrate the concept of real images
before beginning the next project for the afternoon.
"Maybe it blows up," said Loran excitedly.
For that, the eager students will have to wait for Friday.
one of the final rockets goes skyward, Justin LeClair, a counselor, and
campers Alexander Mines, 9, and Ben Franks, 10, watch. (Staff photo by