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McNeal students blast off with year-end project

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  • | 4:00 a.m. June 6, 2012
Eleven-year-old Cesar Sandelis put extra time and effort into building his model rocket. Photo by Jen Blanco.
Eleven-year-old Cesar Sandelis put extra time and effort into building his model rocket. Photo by Jen Blanco.
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — She couldn’t believe the news.

Could it really be possible?

No, there was absolutely no way it could be done.

Or so a bewildered 10-year-old Alexis Burulia thought, as she sat at her desk listening to McNeal Elementary School fifth-grade science teacher Kathy Kimes explain how Alexis and the rest of her fellow classmates would spend the final weeks of school learning how to build model rockets.

“When I heard about it, I didn’t know you could make them using items from home,” Alexis said. “I thought, ‘How do you make rockets? I don’t think you can. I never did (before).’”

But it didn’t take long for Alexis to get on board with the idea. She and her classmates spent a week designing, building and decorating their own model rockets out of paper towel and toilet paper rolls; and on Thursday, May 31, the students put their skills in aerodynamics to the test, as they launched their rockets.
The project, which has become an annual project at McNeal, served not only as a fun way to close out the school year, but also as a way to prepare the students for their class trip to NASA June 4.

“This is a prelude to NASA to get them interested in and understanding the dynamics of flight,” Kimes said. “They’ll learn some basic rocket design and hopefully generate an interest in the space program.

“They love it,” Kimes said. “It’s kind of a great and fun way to finish up the year. They get so excited when they’re making them … their personalities really show in their rockets.”

The students spent about a week building their model rockets making sure their measurements were exact and everything fit together properly.

“It was kind of hard getting the stuff inside the rocket with the glue because sometimes it didn’t fit, and then you had to redo it,” Alexis said.

Classmate Andrew Schagen agreed.

“Some parts were really hard to put in,” Andrew said. “I just wanted to make it so that it would go straight and really high.”

Once the rockets were complete, the students saw how well they had followed directions. Those whose rockets went straight up into the air took the time and effort needed to make sure everything was lined up exactly right.

“It’s more exciting because now I can say I built one of those rockets,” Alexis said.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].