BBEST in the News

Reprinted with permission from Sports Rockerty magazine, Jan./Feb. 2005 issue, pp. 34 and 45. Sports Rockery is the publication of the National Association of Rocketry.

BBEST Rocketry

by Diane Goldstein, 2003 Cannon Award Recipient

"I decided to use the money to work with a group of underprivileged students that would otherwise probably not be exposed to the sport. A friend of mine teaches in a program called B2EST—Building Behavioral and Educational Support Teams. The students in these classrooms have emotional and behavioral disorders that keep them from participation in the regular education classrooms. ... Rocketry is the kind of activity that gets the students involved and excited about learning and I was hopeful that these students would behave the same way. — Diane Goldstein

Diane Goldstein and student
Teacher Diane Goldstein and James Herold preparing for launch.
Germantown Academy's Flight Club
Germantown Academy's Flight Club, who taught the students at Rush Middle School. Left to right: Noah Swann, Tom Weber, Diane Goldstein (faculty Advisor), Eric Treffeisen, Nick Jones. The students are holding their TARC Qualifier rocket.

Ten…Nine…Eight…Seven…Six…Five…Four…Three…Two…One…Ignition-A familiar sound in an unfamiliar environment. All the faces looking upward on a sunny Friday morning in the middle of a community football field following the same rocket and filled with (I think) the same exciting emotions.

As an educator for the past ten years, I have found that those real "special moments" in the day are relatively few and far between, and therefore I cherish them when they happen. Lately, most of those moments have revolved around my teaching of model rocketry and the consistent joy it brings to each newcomer observing their own rocket blast off high above the school.

I got involved in model rocketry only three years ago when two students approached me during the end of their junior year and wanted to know if I would be the faculty advisor of a flight club they wanted to start. I was mentioned to these boys who had been participants in the AIA Student section because I was listed as an AIA Educator Associate. Until that time all I had done was read the newsletter and magazines.

Without going through all the details, one thing lead to another and I found myself not only continuing on with the flight club, but teaching model rocketry as a unit in my senior elective, Selected Topics in Physics. As a true beginner, I was able to learn a great amount from the enormous wealth of information available free at www.esteseducator.com. In addition, I spent many hours communicating with Ann Grimm at Estes and I am very grateful for her help. Although I have subsequently found many other helpful suppliers and manufacturers, it was this initial relationship with Estes that boosted both my knowledge and moral, and therefore when I became a recipient of one of the Robert L. Cannon education awards funded by Vern Estes, I thought long and hard about how to best use the $500 to promote model rocketry.

I decided to use the money to work with a group of underprivileged students that would otherwise probably not be exposed to the sport. A friend of mine teaches in a program called BBEST—Building Behavioral and Educational Support Teams. The students in these classrooms have emotional and behavioral disorders that keep them from participation in the regular education classrooms. After teaching several sessions of model rocketry to middle school age children at a summer camp, I felt that with a little help from the Flight Club, I could bring model rocketry to the BBEST classroom at Rush Middle School in Philadelphia. Rocketry is the kind of activity that gets the students involved and excited about learning and I was hopeful that these students would behave the same way.

The students were given a three ring binder of materials entitled Balloon Rockets, Alka-Seltzer Rockets, Model Rockets, and more!, two weeks in advance of our visit. The students learned about Newton's Third Law and then completed several small rocket activities before we arrived to actually start model rocketry. By the time the three members of the club arrived, the students had plenty of questions for them. They had even completed an identification page of all of the parts of the Alpha rocket they would be building.

We spent two full mornings with the nine students and had a fantastic time. On the first day we reviewed Newton's Third Law and constructed our Alpha rockets. We left the rockets to dry overnight and returned on the only sunny day of the week, ready to spray paint and launch. We had one of those perfect, windless, warm, quiet mornings where the only noises heard were the oohhs and aahhs of watching your own model soar through the sky. We went nine-for-nine with the A8-3 engines and even reloaded a few with the B6-4 because of the calm weather.

We ended our two days of sharing together with a pizza party and iron on T-shirts. The design for the shirts (see the accompanying graphic) was put together by my department chair, Joe Rozak, who is never too busy to help out. My club members-Nick Jones, Eric Treffeson, and Tom Webber-deserve a lot of credit. They took two days out of their "spring break" to help nine students whom they had never met before.

I left by promising to send the students catalogs and any rocketry information that I could. I will make sure that they get the materials, because this may be the "hook" that keeps even one of them motivated to learn.
 

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