Inspiring kids to pursue their dreams in STEM has been our main goal with Vivify. There are now so many resources available to motivate students with hands-on STEM experiences, but how do you find the best ones? We had a chance meeting with the founder and CEO of RocketEd and are blown away by his passion for STEM education and reaching every student through the awe-inspiring wonder of model rocketry!
Read on for our interview with Sam Pedrotty of RocketEd to learn about his wonderful company, FREE resources, and great products to use in your home, classroom, or program.
A few months ago, the Vivify team attended the NASA's Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC). In a session taught Natasha, we met Sam. Following his shirt's lead, which read "Ask me about rockets", we learned about our common interest in STEM education and our love of all things aerospace! If you haven't yet read our post on How Teaching Space Inspires Youth, please do. Inspiring kids through space exploration is a valuable tool to engage an interest in science and engineering. This was the drive behind Sam's pursuit in making model rocketry available for every child to experience and equiping every educator.
After discussing the RocketEd business and the resources they provide on their website, we were excited to try out printing our own 3D model rocket. The modular components were easy to print and put together using the files provided on the RocketEd website. To the students' delight, we were then able to add an engine and launch the rocket at Space Club! Don't have a 3D printer? No problem, RocketEd offers full kits of model rockets for your classroom or program along with free companion lessons for a complete learning experience.
Hear more below from our interview with Sam, RocketEd's founder and CEO.
1. What is RocketEd?
RocketEd is a small company I created to make teaching STEM easier and more affordable while also making is more exciting and engaging for students. We do this with a new type of model rocket paired with standards-based curricula.
2. Why Rockets?
Rockets are the perfect intersection of cheap, safe, and fun! Aside from that, I'm a total space-nut, so I'm definitely biased towards rockets. I can't say when I fell in love with space-- it seems like I've always been fascinated by it.
I started thinking about using rockets in the classroom for STEM after a rocket propulsion engineering class. It promised to be exciting, but ended up like many other STEM classes in that it was confined to a book and a chalkboard, which made it totally unrelatable. I'm a firm believer that things like science and engineering are "contact sports". You've got to do them, not just read about them. This got me thinking about how STEM could be made more engaging for students while also being implementable by teachers. The idea continued to evolve to where it is today-- 3D printed model rockets!
3. Who would benefit from learning with model rockets and 3D printing?
Everyone! You can do a ton with model rockets. With rocketry, not even the sky is the limit. Getting away from my pro-space bias, rockets probably lean towards STEM topics, so maybe those with a STEM interest would benefit most. On to 3D printing, it continues to evolve and improve every year. I think it's a safe to say that 3D printing will revolutionize how we make things and will become as common as paper printers. The big question there is 'when.'
For the rocketry and 3D printing stuff RocketEd does, we target the middle school group as we believe that may be the best place to inspire students.
4. Rockets sound intimidating. Where should an educator or parent start?
Rockets sound scary, but they're very easy! As a very hands-on person, I have to say that the best place to start is just getting out there and flying. Rockets can be found online and in brick-and-mortar stores and you can usually get everything you need to fly for about $30. Go get a set and get flying! The rockets will come with all the instructions you need.
For those that like to do a bit more research before jumping into something, there are lots of resources on the web (like YouTube) which walk through each aspect of rocketry. There are also rocketry clubs across the country that will be happy to help (look for a local Tripoli or National Association of Rocketry group).
5. What is your goal/hope with your company?
We like to dream big, so RocketEd's goal is to improve STEM education for every student across the country by providing teachers a great new tool for doing so.
While our goal is to improve STEM education for both teachers and students, our ulterior motive is to inspire students to look up! By that, we mean we want to inspire them to think about possibilities for themselves and the world that they've never considered before (especially related to the aerospace field). There's more than one aerospace engineer running around making daily contributions to society on and off the Earth that didn't even think about the field before flying that first model rocket. That 'ah-ha!' moment is exactly what we hope to provide to every student. By getting students excited about STEM (and space), we firmly believe that we're making a better future for everyone.
6. What additional resources are helpful?
For rocketry, there should be nearby organizations that have experience with rocketry and happy to share them like Tripoli and NAR. There are also a ton of resources available across the web (like YouTube). Other rocketry companies have created curricula involving rocketry and have lots of other resources available on the web for free (places to start may be Estes and Apogee Rockets).
For 3D printing, there are many different printers and they all seem to have their own little quirks. General rules and concepts that you can find across the web will help you get started, but may not help you with a problem specific to your machine. Most companies now have online user forums where people can share their successes and seek help for their problems. We've found that those are the quickest way to get the best answer.
Of course, we're also happy to field any questions related to rocketry, 3D printing, and STEM! Feel free to reach out to us-- we'd love to chat.
7. Where can we find out more about RocketEd?
We're glad you asked! We're on the web at gorocketed.com. There you can find our free curricula, model rocket designs, and our products. The best way to get in touch with us is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to call us at 9803-LAUNCH, but be prepared to leave a message. We also try to be hip on social media, so please give us (RocketEd, LLC) a like or follow on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!
Let us know how you have used model rockets! Maybe you lunched them as a kid, or have never tried it before? This would make for a great grant project or if you already have a 3D printer, end the school year with a bang!