It’s not rocket science…actually, it is

August 11 / 68

The Physics Students’ Society celebrated National Science Week by organising and hosting Rocket Science, an interactive rocketry display open to the general public at Scienceworks, which saw more than 20 rockets launched. 

The event was funded by a grant from the Federal Government, and included two short presentations. Launch Officer Emma Bland spoke about beating gravity with rocket engines, and Dr Shane Huntington gave a presentation about rockets and space exploration. He explained how rockets worked and showed the audience how they could make their own simple rocket engine at home with a balloon.

Dr Huntington is the host of popular 3RRR science radio show Einstein a Go Go as well as being the Vice-Chancellor’s Principal Strategy Advisor. 

Society President Daniel Rodgers-Pryor said science communication was very important.  “The more young people who are interested in science, the more scientists and scientifically literate adults there will be in the future,” he said. 

“If we can communicate science well to the public, which means fostering their interest before trying to teach facts, then we can make science better, both by educating new researchers, and augmenting the role science can play in the world-at-large. 

“As future scientists, we need to do our part in communicating the wonder, curiosity and excitement we feel for science.”

Ms Bland said about 200 people watched each launch. “I was responsible for managing the countdown procedure and recruiting aspiring rocket scientists to press the big red button,” she said.

“We had about 20 different types of rockets in all shapes and sizes, including a two-stage rocket and a model of the space shuttle. There was no shortage of kids volunteering to press the big red button on our launch control system. 

“As physics students, we know that there is a lot of fun to be had with rockets. They make a very satisfying "pchhhhhhheeeeooooooow" sound, and it's so much fun to build something yourself and then watch it fly through the air, deploy a parachute and then glide smoothly back to the ground.

“The physics behind rockets is simple, but the results are spectacular.”

Mr Rodgers-Pryor said the day was a great success. “A lot of people were interested in how the rockets worked, which is exactly the kind of inquisitiveness we were trying to foster,” he said. 


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