By John Anderson
After the grand reopening of Pakachoag Golf Course last Friday, a bus arrived from Auburn Middle School. On board were ten members of the Young Engineers Club along with advisors Nancy Stiling and Denise Collins. The students came armed with rocket launchers and a bag full of rockets. The plan was to send their arsenal skyward outside the clubhouse and near the putting green to honor Dr. Robert Goddard’s rocket launch in the same area some 90 years ago. And, the plan was successful.
Like Goddard’s innovative experiments, the students used a liquid fuel, but the rockets were made of plastic and not metal. While Goddard used propellants like gasoline and liquid nitrous oxide, the young engineers used tap water, and their rockets were empty 2-liter soda bottles.
After partially filling each bottle and placing it on a launch pad, students added air pressure with a bicycle pump. The launches were triggered from a safe distance with a string, and many rockets reached a height of 100 feet or more. The combination of hydraulic pressure from the water driven by pneumatic pressure from the pumped air made quite a sight. Not enough lift for NASA’s purposes, but an excellent demonstration nonetheless. The water columns from the launch and the flight are clearly visible in the slide show. One rocket even had a photo of Goddard attached.
Representative Paul Frost was one of those in attendance, and he said legislating March 16th into Robert Goddard Day was an achievement early in his political career after being approached by Auburn Middle Schoolers. Seeing the demonstration by the same aged students appeared quite satisfying for him.
Auburn Historical Society President Sari Bitticks was also on hand and displayed items from their collection after the launches were completed. The Young Engineers enjoyed cake, popcorn, and beverages courtesy of Pakachoag Golf Course and Club House Director Kristen Pappas.
Video of the event should be available on Channel 3’s YouTube page since Brittany Schaefer also covered the recognition. Excellent work by all.