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Rockets skyward at DJHS

Posted by: tdt -

By Robin Scott

    Anyone near the Dalhart Junior High School last week may have spotted what appeared to be a small UFO at the back of the campus.  Many UFO’s, as one after another flew across the field directly behind the school.  The mysterious airborne objects flew hundreds of feet into the air before returning to the field.

    The objects were rockets created and decorated by students at the junior high and made possible by a grant from the Dalhart Education Foundation.  The project was aptly titled “DJHS Mission Control Presents Rocket Adventures- Flight 009” and would not otherwise have been possible without the grant.

    This year’s grant, Rocket Adventures, was an interdisciplinary unit on rockets and space.  The educational experience involved the entire school and teachers who all worked together across curricular boundaries, creating a lot of excitement within the foundation.  

    Committed activities for the grant included reading Galahad 1, The Comet’s Curse by Dom Testa, a former teacher and a current radio talk show host in Denver, Colorado and a pro-education spokesman who wants to challenge kids. He graciously donated 120 books.  His book also won some literary awards.

    Another activity was building model rockets that were built and launched by teams of four student astronauts.  Each rocket was intricately designed.  Each group of students was responsible for understanding how the rocket worked, setting up the rocket for launch, and recording information obtained during and after launch.  The information gathered was a part of the learning experience and also provided an opportunity for the students to work together and make decisions about their rockets flight when recording the information.

    The artistic activity was the creation of a space mural, which every student assisted in painting.  The mural created a galaxy element and will be hung in the school’s library.  Many teachers painted the mural as well.  Everyone is invited to stop by the library and enjoy the mural and appreciate the effort the students made.

    A brainstorming session also occurred where staff broke into subject areas to discuss other possible activities and work out logistics.  The grant allowed for students and teachers to engage in activities that brought them all together.  Each activity centered on the theme of rockets and space and encouraged a growth in knowledge using a hands-on approach.  As students readied their rockets for blast off they spoke about what they were learning and how their rockets worked.  Each grade level focused on a different learning experience that correlated with that grade’s educational requirements and level of understanding.  No matter the grade, however, launching a rocket that the students made themselves was just plain exciting.  

    Last year the Dalhart Education Foundation provided funding for the Mask Adventure.  The Mask project involved casting a plaster mask of every student in the junior high.  The English teachers collaborated the masking into writing assignments.  Next year’s adventure should prove equally exciting and continue a valued tradition at the school.

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