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SHS Science Expo – It’s Only Rocket Science

With Seniors Gone The Next SHS Generation Takes The Lead

By Elizabeth Cayouette-Gluckman


ElizabethWith the departure of the senior students, Salem High’s focus turns to the remaining scholars. This past Tuesday students in 9th, 10th, and 11th grade debuted the product of their efforts in their science classes, at the annual Science Expo.

Students in all classes, from college prep Biology to advanced placement Chemistry, must complete and present a project. These projects have been in the making for several weeks, and are a large component of students fourth quarter grade. The Science Expo takes over all three cafeterias for the morning, as students get to showcase their own projects, and explore those of other students.

Laura Barnes and Jason Dinh, both rising seniors in Mr. Warren’s AP Physics 1 class, have spent the past few weeks working on a model rocket. With absence of the senior class these two are the only students in their class, so they have been enjoying very individualized attention.

Dinh says that the goal of their project was to “measure the effects of air friction” and that “using a model rocket [they] determined how high it should go ignoring air friction. It should have gone 132m high but due to friction it only went up 48m.”

Dinh goes on to explain that “we had a force sensor and glued the engine to the force sensor first to find force. Using force we found acceleration then time then velocity, then using those we found the height using kinematics.”IMG_7092

This project served to provide a physical example of principles the two had already learned while taking the course, as they covered essentially all of the material prior to taking the AP exam last month.

Renne Venico, a student in honors Chemistry with Ms. Kim, also chose to do a project with rockets, working with two other students, Demetri Bouras and Joseph Diaz. Each boy made a different model and type rocket, and tested how high each would fly, comparing results.

Venico says that “my own rocket is a pressurized bottle rocket, and so I approached this by having a control rocket with 1L of water inside, and I would have a standard deviant of >5L water. I would stuff the opening with a cork stopper after placing the respective amounts of water, and I would push a ball needle through the cork, place the rocket on an elevated ‘launch pad’ and then hook a bike pump to the bottle via the ball pump. I would tie a string to the ballast, which was play dough wrapped around the neck of the bottle and acted as a weight, which I would use later to measure the height.”

“After further reseaFullSizeRender-5rch, I found that water is non-compressible and that the water is only meant to push the cork out, and also that the less water inside of the rocket, the more room I would have for compressed air and the lighter the rocket would become. Therefore, the .5L bottle rocket flew the highest, at a whopping 12.5 meters.”

Venico is clearly an expert on his project, which was designed to utilize his knowledge of the Ideal Gas Law. Though he spent hours repeatedly explaining his project to his fellow students, his enthusiasm for it is still clear at the end of the day.

Venico also notes that he enjoyed seeing how his classmates “tackled challenging questions like ‘Can You Produce Water on Mars?’ and ‘Is Hot Ice Possible?’” He express his excitement at seeing how his peers “executed and presented their experiments.”

The Science Expo indubitably was and will continue to be a fun and valuable experience for students, in which they are able to experiment with what they have been learning, and show off their newly acquired knowledge to their peers.

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