Hannah Silva is a student member of The Rocketry Club at Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab.
The sky's the limit.
The Rocketry Club at Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab is on a quest to launch a rocket to at least 15,000 feet into the sky, but they need a little help.
Twenty students from eight high schools came together at Fab Lab to combine their knowledge and create a team with a goal; launch a rocket more than two miles into the atmosphere.
The effort is led by Riverview High School senior Sebastian Grabowski, who wanted to branch out when his rocketry club at Riverview wasn’t doing as popular as he expected.
“There weren't a lot of people interested,” said Grabowski. “Towards the end of my sophomore year, I joined Fab Lab as a summer camp volunteer. I was like, ‘Oh my God. This place is so cool.’ There were a lot of people from different schools. So, If I would create the club over here, I would have those connections to different schools instead of focusing on Riverview.”
Sebastian proposed the idea of a rocketry club at Fab Lab after volunteering for their engineering summer camp in 2022.
Grabowski is part of the Tripoli Rocket Association, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to education, advancement and safe operation of amateur high-power rocketry. “It’s a worldwide known organization for amateur rocketeers–It’s in Tampa. That’s where this rocket came from,” said Grabowski.
“I made the proposal to Riverview as a science project focusing on Earth Space and they liked it,” said Grabowski. “I got approved by the School Board because dealing with chemicals, I needed approval, but they didn’t want to fund me.”
Grabowski immediately thought of Fab Lab and how they have hardware to use and manufacture their own parts instead of buying the parts. “We can even expand that learning experience,” said Grabowski.
This interdisciplinary research project provides students with a real-world learning experience in the fields of physics, engineering, computer programming, chemistry, and mathematics.
With guidance from professional mentors, including Fab Lab board member and Suncoast Polytechnical High School chemistry, physics and calculus teacher Russell Finger, the Rocketry Club student members spent fall 2022 determining plans, goals, testing rocket fuel chemicals, designing the rocket nozzle and cone using design software, and programming adjustable fins to control the rocket's flight.
The club aims to launch between May and June of this year.
The Rocketry Club is raising money for chemicals used as engine fuel for the rocket. “The chemicals are the most expensive part of the rocket–the engine itself. It’s like a car. Repairing the engine is expensive especially when you have to replace it everytime (the rocket is used),” said Grabowski.
In addition to monetary support, the group seeks in-kind donations of metal stock and fiberglass tubing as well as support from additional mentors in the field of aerospace and/or mechanical engineering. For information, contact [email protected] or call 941-840-4394.