NewsLocal NewsAkron Canton News


Blast off: University of Akron Akronauts visit I PROMISE School

Team partnering with kids to build big rocket
Akron rockets.jpg
Posted at 5:11 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 18:32:16-04

AKRON, Ohio — Just because something is only made out of paper doesn't mean it can't have power and propulsion.

That's one of the lessons fifth graders at Akron's I PROMISE School learned from Akronauts, a University of Akron student design team from the College of Engineering and Polymer Science.

The Akronatus club, which participates in collegiate rocketry competitions, told the kids how they build rockets out of fiberglass, aluminum and other materials.

The team explained that solid propellants are typically used to fire the rockets—although they're working on a liquid engine—and that parachutes bring the rockets back to earth.

"We have the motor in the bottom and then we ignite it and it just kind of combusts from the top down and that's what propels the rocket," said Nicole Zimmerli, a third year UA mechanical engineering student.

The I PROMISE students then made paper rockets and launched them in the hallway using a contraption built with a bicycle pump and PVC pipe.

In March, the Akronauts launched a rocked called Emergence II in the Mojave Desert. It was captured on video and went up more than 22,000 feet.

"It's really cool to see and it took off from the launch rail. You lost it in the sky. It was a clear, blue sky that day so you could see a little trail from the motor," Zimmerli said. "We can't fly that high in Ohio."

Riley Meyers, a third year UA mechanical engineering student, said the elementary school kids get excited about building rockets and learn about STEM at the same time.

"Our goal here is to show this group of fifth graders that like, hey, this is a really cool thing you can do with concepts you learn in the classroom," Myers said.

The collegiate group is also working on an I PROMISE rocket which will be entered into the 2022 Spaceport America Cup. It will be 22 feet high and could go as high as 30,000 feet. It will be flown in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico in June.

Meyers said the students from the school, founded by LeBron James, will participate as the design evolves.

"It's a big rocket. We're painting it all white with black logos on it and then they paint their hands their favorite color and put it on the rocket," Myers said.