On Monday, June 4th the fourth grade study of Rocketry culminated with the students launching rockets of their own construction in an annual event known as the Lower School Rocket Launch. The entire Lower School, along with parents, a few Middle and Upper School students and faculty gather to watch the fourth graders countdown, launch, track the flight, observe the parachute deploy, and attempt to catch their rocket. In what has become a fourth grade “rite of passage,” no greater joy or fun can be experienced, then, after a long run, the rocket lands softly into the hands of an anxiously awaiting student and the audience erupts in a loud cheer of approval. Most of the fourth grade have witnessed the rocket launch several times as a first, second, and third grader so once they reach fourth grade, they are excited, enthusiastic and eager to build, launch, and attempt to catch their rocket.
As part of the Lower School science curriculum, students have been building, launching and attempting to catch rockets for the past 45 years. In the early years, rockets were built and launched by the fourth grade in various egg lift competitions and model rocket clubs. As the years passed, the Lower School Rocket Launch eventually evolved into the tradition we now know and love, excited children on the Sedgley lawn launching rockets, proud parents, happy lower school students and faculty cheering the fourth graders on as they attempt to “catch their rocket.” These childhood memories will last a lifetime.
In the past week, I had a chance meeting with Tatnall graduate, Jason Kramer, ‘16, and as we spoke I told him that we had just finished the fourth grade rocket launch, he said, “I still have my rocket! It’s in my bedroom.” I also just received an email from Alexa Kilroy, a former Lower School student, who had just recently graduated from Boston College Lynch School of Education and is an incoming English teacher at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School. Alexa wrote, “You have truly continued to inspire me throughout my journey. The rocket project was one of my favorites, an outstanding example of engaging students in a multifaceted assessment!”
The rocket launch is simply great fun! Another example of Omnia in Caritate.