Carrot takes flight in Kalaheo sky

KALAHEO — A carrot took flight in Kalaheo Friday.

Not just a carrot, this one served to demonstrate to students what can be accomplished through creativity.

Tom Clements of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana, creator of the carrot rocket, was joined by Daniel Momohara and Alan Chun as the trio worked with about a dozen students at the Kalaheo School rocket club for the club’s first launch day.

“This is the second club,” said Kalaheo School teacher and club advisor Tracy Sullivan. “The first club had its Launch Day earlier. This club has been meeting every Friday and spent the semester learning about Newton’s Laws and how it affects rocketry.”

Erik Burkman, the school’s principal, was also on hand, making sure the sprinklers at Kato Park were turned off so the students could launch without too much distraction.

“The students have been working hard on this the whole semester,” he said. “Tracy is the science teacher and has been very good in working with the students. It’s also nice that Tom and Alan come out to help the students, too. They were here earlier to help the students assemble the rockets.”

Sullivan explained that students utilized the principles they learned to design their rockets.

“They each built their own rocket, and the main difference is in the fin design,” Sullivan said.

Using product from Estes Industries, a supplier of rocketry products, the students utilized a low-powered engine due to the proximity of neighbors, Clements said.

“The students spent the semester launching alpha rockets, water rockets and stomp rockets,” Sullivan said. “This is the first time they’re launching real rockets.”

During the Launch Day, one of the unspoken goals was to launch into the wind, and with the aid of floaters and streamers to act as drag, the rocket body would land within the confines of the small park located across the school campus.

“These are special engines and the rockets will probably reach about a hundred feet,” Clements said.

Whoosh! The first rocket lifted off in a puff of smoke. Pop! was the signal the engine had burnt out, sending a charge inside the rocket that separated the nose cone from the body.

That enabled the fluorescent orange streamer to burst free and besides acting as drag for the descent, enabled the student rocketeers to track the craft’s descent.

Drawing on the assistance of a student spectator who was witnessing the launches from the safety of the park’s dugout, Clements readied his carrot craft as all eyes were on the green-tailed craft.

The countdown started. The button was pushed.

Whoosh! The orange craft lifted off in a cloud of smoke a little larger than those created by the student rockets.

Aided by its orange color and a yellow-and-black checkered parachute, there was no trouble tracking the craft’s descent.

Sullivan said the school was recently awarded a grant from the National Rocketry Association to continue the rocketry program at Kalaheo School.

For Clements, he’ll have a sampling of rockets from his own collection as well as student work for the Adopt-a-School program Monday which will also feature a rocket launch at the end of the public viewing.

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