Students at Jo Lane Middle School in Roseburg had a blast Wednesday afternoon.

It was the finals of the sixth-grade water rocket competition, and eight teams were in the hunt to win the the first-place prize, trying to shoot their rockets the highest. But the teams were also rated on how stable their flight was, and they had to do a presentation about their preparation and specifics of their rocket.

They were all created by the students in the science classes, with water bottles, water, and water pressure.

Elias Malak, along and his team of Colin Antonio and Brooks Avery, won first place in the competition when their rocket shot high into the air, hung there for what seemed like forever, before descending smoothly much further down the football field.

Before the competition, Malak discussed the name of his team’s creation.

“It’s the Flying Falcon 360, and the water and air pressure make it blast off,” Elias said. “Usually we put it at 65 psi, but this time we put it at 80 and we were scared about it exploding,” he said.

But it didn’t explode and took off like a — well, a rocket — before soaring to an estimated 300 feet. It was judged the best overall, from height, flight stability, preparation and presentation.

Lucas Bass was solo, launching his rocket alone, after making some modifications that sent it up near the same estimated height as Elias.

“I just added extra weight to the top and less water, so it had more room for air pressure, and I put bigger wings on it so it would be more stable,” Lucas said.

There were some unique designs like 11-year-old Salina Herrera’s rocket, who did hers by herself. She called her design a “Gumby” rocket.

“My original fins were too long so I just cut them in half and doubled them up, and I found that worked really well, and then there’s a giant ball of green clay in the front,” Salina said.

Matt Hall, the sixth-grade team leader for math and science at Jo Lane, started the water rocket contest at the school three years ago and his goal is to get the entire sixth grade class involved. Hall said when you put something in front of them and they start building, that’s really peaks their interest, and he said a lot of that type of learning has been taken out of the schools.

“That’s how I learned, and there’s a lot of kids that really excel in this type of learning,” Hall said.

Arica Hunter, sixth grade math and science teacher, was impressed with the way the students worked together on the projects.

“They’re not only building skills in engineering and design, but they’re building skills that they’re going to take the rest of their life,” Hunter said. “They are all working together and they love seeing each other succeed.”

Steve Kiepert, who teaches math, science and robotics in the sixth grade said the event is really good for the students.

“They became engaged in this project and stayed engaged, so it’s really a good thing,” Kiepert said.

The winners of the contest received a water rocket launcher as their first-place prize.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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