Shooting for the stars: Boys and Girls Club members launch rockets at Brownstown Elementary

About 70 rockets could be found Tuesday evening behind Brownstown Elementary School in a cornfield.

These rockets were launched by members of the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour’s after-school program in Brownstown.

Paul Ruddick, STEM coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, said club members built the rockets over a four- to five-week period.

The process involved the use 3D printers, cutting PVC pipes and attaching fins.

Ruddick built an air cannon using PVC pipes and an air compressor to launch the rockets.

He said the project was designed to be educational while being fun for the kids.

“We do a lot more than just play,” Ruddick said. “Every aspect of our projects, especially our rocket project, we’ve learned.”

The rocket Ruddick thought would go the farthest was actually the one that he built because he angled the fins on the rocket so it would spiral in the air instead of going straight up.

But the work the club members put into their rockets was commendable for their consistency.

Most of them went up into the air and landed nose-first into the ground about 50 feet from where they were launched from the air cannon.

Ruddick said he experimented with how to launch the rockets from his air cannon before launch time to see what would be the best distance and angle at which to set it.

Many club members had the high expectation of reaching the cornfield lining the school property, and while no rocket made a crash landing in the crops, some were close.

The top prize for the rocket that went the farthest distance won a pizza party for their classroom at school.

The builder of the second-place rocket received a $15 gift card for anything they wanted, and $10 in cash went to the third-place finisher.

Grayson Baxter, 12, of Seymour had the rocket that went the farthest.

He said he focused on coloring his rocket patriotic colors because his great-grandfather and great-grandmother were in World War II.

Logan Mudge, 11, of Brownstown wound up second, and Harrison Ruddick, a third-grader at Brownstown Elementary School, finished third.

Mudge also won a grand prize along with Adison Williams, 11, of Brownstown.

Ruddick said the two club members won grand prizes because of the notable involvement and interest they showed during the project.

Mudge will be taking a 3D printer home courtesy of the North Vernon engineering company Eckhart, and Williams will be treated to a day to get her nails done and a meal at Chili’s.

Mudge and Williams helped Ruddick prepare the rocket launches throughout the hour the club members shot the 70 rockets into the air.

The two loaded the rockets into the cannon and showed club members how to use the controller that would release their rocket once Ruddick checked to see if there was enough air pressure. Launches required between 60 and 100 pounds per square inch to be successful.

Williams said she wanted to help others because she “likes to help a lot” and is inspired by her mother, who is a registered nurse.

“It’s just a kind and generous thing that I do,” she said. “I don’t do it because I’m forced to. I do it because I like it and I enjoy it.”

While Williams thought a lot of the rockets weren’t going to go far, she said she was surprised about how far they landed about halfway through the launches.

Mudge said he thought the rocket launches went pretty well, and he wanted to help because it was fun to work on the rockets as the project moved along.

Mia Hatchett, 8, of Brownstown said she hoped her rocket, that she colored purple and black, would go into the cornfield.

If she were to make her rocket again, she said she would make sure there were more fins on it and it was launched with more air pressure.

When a rocket was launched, a loud noise would sound off from air being released to propel the rockets.

Briar Stout, 7, of Brownstown said he was nervous about launching his rocket but thought it was exciting in the end.

“I was like, ‘I’m so scared the rocket’s going to hit me,’” he said. “I was so nervous. Then when it happened, it wasn’t that scary.”