Future Rocket Scientists Descend Upon NASA's Wallops Flight Facility

Jun 13, 2012

For some students and teachers, this may be the chance of a lifetime.

Beginning Saturday, the NASA Wallops Island Flight Facility will hold its Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students (WRATS) and “RockOn!” workshop.

With feet planted safely on the ground, more than 100 college students and educators from around the country will get a peek into the life of a rocket scientist during the Flight Facilities’ “Rocket Week” June 16-22.

The RockOn! workshop is designated for university-level participants and the WRATS program is geared toward high school teachers. Wallops Island officials say students and educators will take part in activities such as building payloads for space flight and learning the dynamics of rocketry.

Unlike some experiments conducted in a traditional classroom, the ones developed during Rocket Week will reach new heights. The workshop and custom-built experiments will fly on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket, which is set to launch on June 21.

The 35-foot-tall rocket is expected to reach an altitude of around 75 miles.

Post-launch and payload discovery, the participants will conduct data analysis and discuss the findings like true rocket scientists.

Joyce Winterton, senior advisor for education and leadership development at the Wallops Island Flight Facility said the workshops encourage an appreciation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and show educators how to teach STEM concepts in new ways.

"RockOn and WRATS provide a unique experience for students, faculty and teachers to understand the importance of a sounding rocket suborbital launch and the value of science that is collected," said Winterton.

Both workshops are supported by the agency's Sounding Rocket Program at Wallops and RockOn! is specifically supported by the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in NASA’s Office of Education.