EPS earns grant for rocket design project

Roy Bartnick, Enid Public Schools STEAM Director, (left) appears with Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission's Aviation education coordinator Adam Fox. (Photo provided by OAC) 

ENID, Okla. — Enid Public Schools is several thousand dollars closer to funding a new districtwide competitive rocket design project, after receiving $7,810 in assistance from Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

Rockets Over Enid, planned to launch in spring 2020, will challenge Enid fourth- and fifth-graders to build the best engineered, highest flying rockets they can. Top performing teams will go on to face off against one another in a number of categories, in what district STEAM Director Roy Bartnick envisions will be an exciting educational event.

"We want to make it a really big thing for these kids," Bartnick said. From beginning to end, an estimated 1,500 students will participate.

They won't be starting from scratch, as teams will be given kits packed with equipment and materials for water or air powered rockets, Bartnick said. He has used the kits before with his own students, prior to his promotion to STEAM director.

Science, technology, engineering and math feature heavily in Rockets Over Enid, but Bartnick is sure not to neglect the "A" in his title's acronym. He wants the project to engage every part of the student's mind, and so artistic challenges will be included. Teams will need a patch, a logo that encapsulates the unique goals and personality of each. Those themes also can be applied to the rockets, whether serious or silly. Creativity is encouraged in the design process, not only performance.

The end goal of Rockets Over Enid is to foster enthusiasm for related fields of study and work, he said, "to get them interested in aerospace, and start them thinking about careers and college studies geared around STEAM."

It's a great opportunity for community involvement, Bartnick said.

"We have all these engineers in town. We have petroleum engineers, we have fluid engineers, we have flight engineers out at Vance," he said. Bring people like those into the classroom, have them talk to the kids about their jobs, give them advice on their projects, and a visit like that might just have a lasting impact on students.

No such volunteers are lined up yet, but Bartnick's project still is under development. Funding is being scraped together, too, though the recently earned grant makes it easier to address. He's shy of his $12,000 goal, "for everything on the wish list," which he does aim to fulfill.

"We're still kind of nebulous right now," he said, but the plan is growing more solid all the time. "I'm very excited about it."

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Willetts is education and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
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