ISME Celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the flight of Apollo 14

The College’s Institute for Excellence in Math and Science Education celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the flight of Apollo 14 students launch rockets

The College’s Institute for Excellence in Math and Science Education, directed by Dr. Susan Brown, celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the flight of Apollo 14 with two days of exciting and well-attended events on the NMSU campus. Dr. Brown and her colleague, Laura Lomas Tomlinson had been preparing for the events since the Fall of 2010. They tackled a number of logistics challenges in moving over 800 students from one event to another.

The two-day celebration was supported in part by the Spaceport Gross Receipts Tax allocations to the Las Cruces and Gadsden Independent School Districts. Partners in the effort included the College of Engineering’s AIAA Club, the MESA program, NMSU’s Science Engineering Mathematics and Aerospace Academy program (also directed by Dr. Brown), the Las Cruces Museum of Natural History, College of Education Service Learning Project volunteers, Delta Zeta Sorority, the Dona Ana Community College Aerospace Technology Program, the White Sands Test Facility, Spaceport America, and NMSU’s Astronomy Department, Space Grant Consortium, and ROTC Program.

Image of boy with hang glider

Highlights for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students attending included an actual Apollo engine on site, the participation of Alan Shepard as a keynote speaker, and rocket launches using StarHawk Quest rocket kits that had been built in advance on school sites with mentors from NMSU and the Las Cruces Area Rocketry Enthusiasts Club (FLARE). The assistance of FLARE members during the launches ensured that the rockets were flight worthy and launched safely.

The schoolchildren participating placed their rockets on the launch pad and, from a distance, flipped the switch to launch them into space. Some rockets attained heights of over 100 feet. The students were able to track their rockets, which returned to ground with the aid of parachutes, and retrieve them. Dr. Brown noted that the students participating were 50% girls and 50% boys. They demonstrated their excitement at the time of the launches by covering their mouths with their hands in anticipation and then, Brown said, “you could hear a communal intake of breath as the rockets took up.

Other launches during the celebration included historical rockets, including several Saturn Vs. These rockets were provided by FLARE members.

Several teachers captured the spirit of the celebration when they remarked, “We’re having a blast!”

More information is available in the NMSU News Center article: Apollo 14 commemoration at NMSU fosters science, technology learning

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