The sky’s the limit, literally, for the members of the newly formed Englewood Thunder Aerospace Club as they learn to build and fly rockets. “I …
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The sky’s the limit, literally, for the members of the newly
formed Englewood Thunder Aerospace Club as they learn to build and
“I had a class that built and flew rockets when I taught junior
high school in Arizona,” club founder and Englewood High School
teacher Jim Chaput said. “I enjoyed teaching the class and flying
the rockets so I thought it would be nice to introduce the program
in Englewood. The idea was good but it was on hold until this year
when the program was made possible by a creativity grant from the
Englewood Education Foundation.”
He said the grant money made it possible to buy very advanced
rocket software and the initial equipment to get the club started.
In the future, the software will enable students to create original
designs for their rockets and use the program to conduct flight
simulations to make sure the design will fly properly.
He explained there are two sections of the club. He oversees the
high school portion, which is a voluntary program that meets after
school the first Monday of each month. The other segment is at
Englewood Middle School, where teacher Michael Schalenberger has
made the building and flying of model rockets a part of his design
“I was out of rocketry for quite a few years, so when I planned
to start this club, I joined the National Association of Rocketry
to get up to speed,” Chaput said. “They directed me to the Web and
I was amazed at the abundance of information available about the
building and flying rockets.”
He said that while a lot of the information is designed for
those involved in model rocketry, there was an astounding amount of
information designed to the classroom.
“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has a
curriculum on model rocketry available and so does the Air Force
Academy,” he said.
The high school program is small initially with three students,
Louis Marcy, Mike Shoclay and Dominic Carter. But Chaput said he
expects it will gain in popularity once the club begins flying its
The first step is building the rockets and, during the Dec. 14
club session, Marcy and Shoclay were hard at work. The kit parts
were spread around the table as the two students focused on
building their first rockets.
“I guess I got interested in rocketry because my grandfather
told me about how he built and flew rockets when he was younger,”
Marcy said as he worked to assemble the parachute for his
“When Mr. Chaput announced the club, I checked into it and I
found it really interesting. My future plans are to become a pilot
and I thought the aerodynamics I learn building and flying the
rockets could help me later.”
He said building the rocket is challenging even though all the
parts come in a kit. He said the challenge lies in the requirement
to be very precise with all measurement because, if the
measurements are off, the portions of the rockets won’t be
“I feel my rocket is going together pretty well,” Marcy said. “I
can’t wait to see it fly.”
Shoclay said he is in the club because he liked to build
“I’ve never built or flown a model plane but I though it would
be fun to build and fly a rocket,” he said as he trimmed the rocket
body to fit the nose cone. “I’ve seen rockets flown. This one is
pretty simple and I hope I can stay with the club so I can help
build and fly bigger and better rockets.”
Chaput shared his interest in model rockets with other EHS
teachers and Bill Gilmore, who teaches science, made a section on
rocket flight part of his class.
His earth science class was divided into teams. Each team was
assigned to write a hypothesis for the rocket, then prepare and
launch the rocket, complete with a payload.
Class lessons included using computer simulations to determine
the center of pressure and the center of gravity on the rocket to
assure stable flight. Each team got to launch the rocket and Chaput
said, as far as he knows, these were the first rocket launches ever
on the EHS campus.
After the Christmas break, the club will resume. Chaput said the
initial rockets will be simple models but, as the students gain
experience, plans are to move up to using a cluster of rocket
motors and to launch two and even three-stage rockets. There is
even the possibility of including on-board cameras to record the
rocket flights, he said.
The high school program has 20 slots. For information on the
club and the program, contact Chaput through the high school office
or call him at (303) 806-2305.
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