Blasting off to a new future at MSJC

July 22, 2015
 
SAN JACINTO—What goes up must come raining down. It’s the law of gravity and the force of physics.
 
On Tuesday (July 21, 2015), area high school students participating in a special summer science program at Mt. San Jacinto College turned part of the campus into a launching pad.
 
The youths designed and built their own water rockets using two-liter plastic bottles, which soared hundreds of feet high from the power of pressurized water and air.
 
Blast off!
 
Justin Merle, 14, a student at San Jacinto High School, set the altitude record by blasting his rocket 309 feet into the sky. He knew the exact height because each rocket had an altimeter attached for accurate readings.
 
“This shows that even something simple can go far,” Justin said.
 
For his strong effort, Justin earned an “A” on his project.
 
David Susuras, a physics and engineering instructor, taught the students during a six-week summer science session at Mt. San Jacinto College. The program ended on July 21 with the students sending nearly a dozen water rockets skyward.
 
Several San Jacinto High youths took part in the Upward Bound program which is federally funded by Department of Education and sponsored by Mt. San Jacinto College. The federal effort encourages low-income and first year generation students to earn college degrees.
 
Building a “rocket”
 
As the students put their pressurized rockets to the test, a whooshing sound filled the air, followed by sprays of water that rained down on Susuras and others.
 
For some, like Julyssa Acosta, 14, the rocket experiment could be life-changing. Before the launch, Julyssa wanted to be a special education teacher. But now, she is thinking about becoming an engineer.
 
“I really enjoyed the hands-on experience,” Julyssa said afterward. ”It made me feel like an engineer.”
 
Students created their rockets by slicing off the bottoms of two plastic bottles and using duct tape to fasten them together. The young scientists considered aerodynamics as they measured the size of cardboard fins. They also calculated how much water they needed to fuel the rockets. An air compressor pressurized the water and sent it to the rockets through a long line stretched across the football field.
 
Winding down
 
When the launch was over, Susuras was extremely proud of these young science students and their dedication.
 
“They took on the challenge, they looked at the variables, they applied the principles, and they did the calculations,” Susuras said. “These kids gave up their summer to study science—and have a little fun, too!”
 
 
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San Jacinto High students Erik Ariza (left) and Reinald Dimzon participate in the summer science program at Mt. San Jacinto College.
 
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San Jacinto High School student Justin Merle holds the science project he used to set an altitude record by blasting his rocket 309 feet into the sky during the summer science program at Mt. San Jacinto College.