Lofty goal

After months of keeping things under wraps, a group from Waimea High’s VidRoc (Video Rocketry) class is ready to announce their new project. Their mission, to be the first high school in the state (or nation?) to view a rocket launch from a different perspective — live from the rocket’s perspective. They were challenged with this task by their Principal Mrs. Anguay to “Aim Higher.”

Editor’s note: Waimea High’s VidRoc (Video Rocketry) class wrote and submitted this story and photos to The Garden Island.

After months of keeping things under wraps, a group from Waimea High’s VidRoc (Video Rocketry) class is ready to announce their new project. Their mission, to be the first high school in the state (or nation?) to view a rocket launch from a different perspective — live from the rocket’s perspective. They were challenged with this task by their Principal Mrs. Anguay to “Aim Higher.”

In July, a group of students was selected based on their high performance and achievements in math and science classes. They, along with their teacher Jerry Nishihira, came in and worked on several model rocket kits. Although giving up their summer, they’ve had a great learning experience. The students have been learning a lot about engineering, problem solving and building a rocket.

The challenge of the course is to successfully build, launch and recover a high-powered rocket while also engineering a way to record and transmit the entire flight via live stream to all the schools on Kauai. These bright minds have been tasked with the challenge of developing and perfecting the entire electronics system. Alan Chun and Donny Kaulukukui, electrical engineers at PMRF serve as mentors for this project.

The model rockets being used are smaller than the big ones launched at nearby PMRF, but even at that smaller scale any mistake can quickly become a disaster. The students have been able to experience this firsthand. They’ve stood by and watched electronic ignition short circuits, a bad fold in a parachute packing that resulted in hard landings. They’ve watched a slightly miscalculated launch angle result in a rocket landing in a nearby ditch. They’ve even witnessed how a single bead of glue nearly ruined an entire rocket.

Levi Sagucio quoted Mr. Nishihira, “Precision and accuracy is everything. If launches go perfectly, you will get an A. If you have a crash or catastrophe and know why it happened then you get an A-plus.”

“He wants his students to figure out what went wrong and try to fix it, prevent it from happening again rather than just giving us the answers,” said Sagucio.

“There is no room for error. Failure is not an option,” said Brandon Ijima.

The current phase of the project is to design a nesting system to house the electronic payload. The students are using a 3D design program to house all of the electronics. The payload will consist of the camera, antennae, transmitter, battery and GPS. They will print out the housing on a 3D printer and will start test launches in the near future.

The big launch is scheduled to take place in December 2015. In the meantime you can follow their progress on the blogs that each student is required to update and maintain.

“I think that this project can help me as a programmer or a cyber security administrator,” said Melia Okura. “I love problem solving and this project has a lot of it.”

“I feel that taking computer science classes and doing this project I might one day be able to work for NASA,” added Levi Sagucio.

Students Eli Nishihira and Justin Fune said that not only were they learning about rocketry and the math and technology involved but had a chance for a scholarship.

Members of the VidRoc class are Melia Okura, Brandon Ijima, Riley Saiki, Levi Sagucio, Briggs Agu, Kai Lansdell, Justin Fune, Eli Nishihira, Maia Young, Leah Carr, Julia Hirano, Devon Hartsell, Jonah Knapp and Samantha Nichols along with their teacher Mr. Jerry Nishihira.

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