Pacific Missile Range Facility hosts high school model rocket launch

(Via Ho’okele News)

Approximately 20 Waimea High School math students and as many parents converged on the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai recently to participate in the final phase of the school’s “scratch-built” model rocket program with launches near the base runway.

The school has partnered with PMRF on the program since 2003 as part of the Navy base’s outreach mission to encourage local youth to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) toward successful career opportunities.

“The benefits of having launches at PMRF are many,” said Jerry Nishihira, the school’s algebra teacher who organized the event along with PMRF technical advisor Alan Chun.

“The biggest impacts are that the students get to see where the ‘big boys’ build, launch, track and recover missiles; have their launches coordinated and supervised by PMRF engineers; and they get a pep talk from the commanding officer and will hopefully be inspired to pursue further studies (in technical areas).”

Capt. Bruce W. Hay, PMRF commanding officer, greeted the students and related his own experiences building and launching model rockets as a child. He also acknowledged and lauded the parents’ involvement at the event.

“The parents actually launched the rockets that their child built in math class,” said Nishihira. “The model rocketry program is enriched with all phases of math, from simple measuring to advanced trigonometry and physics components.”

“There’s a lot of math principles involved,” concurred Briggs Agu, one of the students. “There’s tracking and plotting angles and time measurements.”

“It takes a lot of hard work and patience,” added fellow student Samantha Nichols. “I learned how to work under time constraints.”

“The first time Waimea High School came out to fly model rockets was 10 years ago and they came out to fly almost every year since,” said Chun. “I have been the technical representative for them since the first launch because model rocketry has been my hobby since I was a kid in elementary school.”

In addition, since 2003, Chun related that PMRF has hosted model rocket launches for Kauai High School several times, Eleele Elementary School, and St. Theresa School.

“We’ve also had Kauai Community College and Leeward Community College from Oahu jointly come out three times to launch their larger model rockets,” he added.

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