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GARDEN GROVE : Taking Studies to a Higher Level

For children at an elementary school, even the sky is no limit to learning. A fourth-grade class at Clinton-Mendenhall Elementary used a giant slingshot on Thursday to launch handmade cardboard rockets hundreds of feet into the air as part of their study involving measurements.

“I liked it when I let it go. It was like letting a bird go--it went so fast,” said 8-year-old Rudy Lopez.

The event, part of the school’s Activities Integrating Math and Science program, was designed to teach children about measuring distance, computing averages as well as deducing what properties make a rocket fly successfully over long distances, teacher John Minaker said. “It definitely gives them motivation and it gives them a chance to use what they’re learning. They’re thinking about things on a more meaningful level,” Minaker said.

During the event, several hundred students from other classes watched on the sidelines as the children prepared their rockets for flight. As each of the nine teams readied their rockets on the launch pad, the spectators yelled out a countdown.

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To propel their rockets, the children--under adult supervision--used a massive slingshot fashioned from a 15-foot board leaning at a 45-degree angle across the top of a swing set. A 2 1/2-foot ring of surgical tubing stretched to almost six times its usual length provided the thrust.

Not all the flights came off as planned, however. While some rockets flew as far as 195 feet, others spun out of control and looped skyward before slamming nose-first into the ground only 10 feet from the launch pad.


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