The Bulletin

Report: Rockets for Schools Launch & Science Fair

Monday, June 2011

Thunder Rocket Club Takes Sheboygan By Storm

Or, rather, a storm took Sheboygan during the annual Rockets For Schools competition on May 20 and 21.  But the launch continued even in the pouring rain, and the event was a fun experience for the Thunder Rocket Club and the other 50 teams that came to Sheboygan for the two day science fair and rocket launch.  Lulu Johnson , Jackson Lubin, Augie Verciglio, Alex Bender-Hooper, Jimmy Geraghty, Gregory Levinson represented CWS along with advisors Brian Gleichauf and Judy Lubin.  Club members Helena Joho and Cheyenne Patino could not attend, but were with us in spirit.

The first day included a presentation of the science project that the team had put into the payload of their rocket.  Thunder Rocket Club choose a very sophisticated, challenging and unique payload project.  The Rockets For Schools folks said they had never seen anything like our design.  The team managed to mount three wind turbines onto the outside of the rocket, and keep them mounted on a vehicle travelling over 330 mph - a major engineering challenge! 

The purpose of the turbines was to collect the energy from the air force during acceleration of the rocket.  The original plan was to turn the energy into electricity, but the generators were too heavy.  So, the team did what good scientists everywhere do and redefined the scope of the project to make it more achievable.  The team measured the amount of energy in terms of RPMs of the turbines.  They used a bicycle speedometer on one of the turbines to calculate the RPMs.  A video camera inside the payload allowed them to read the speedometer and to directly count the revolutions of the turbine.  They then calculated the amount of volts and amps that could be produced from the spinning of the turbines.  They predicted that they would obtain 3000 volts in flight, yeilding 7.5 watts of power.

The team managed to mount three working wind turbines onto the outside of a rocket travelling over 330 mph - a major engineering challenge!

The launch of the 6 foot tall rocket took place on the second day of the event.  In typical Rockets For Schools fashion, the rocket was launched into Lake Michigan.  The Coast Guard retrieved the rocket from the water.  Fog kept the Coast Guard from taking their boats out, so the launch was delayed a few hours.  But when the fog cleared, the Thunder Rocket Club was second on the pad, so we beat the rain.  The rocket roared off the pad on a Cesaroni I285 motor.  Before the launch, we were a bit anxious because the turbines could possibly have adversely affected the stability of the rocket.  But the rocket flew straight as an arrow!  The video showed that the turbines worked exactly as intended, spinning freely to collect the energy from the acceleration throughout the flight.  When the rocket hit the water, however, the plastic turbines shredded down to the wheel-core.  So, the payload is not re-usable.  But it worked!  A successful launch!

Says participant Lulu Johnson, “After working so hard on the rocket and preparing the presentation, it felt good to represent our school with our beautiful rocket.  It was also interesting to see other school’s rockets and payload projects, and to find out that so many people in the Midwest alone were interested in rocket science.”

You can find more photos and details on the launch and the preparation at www.jlrockets.com/Thunder_Rocket_Club.html