Up, up and away!

Published 9:05 am Friday, August 17, 2012

Ken Fiscus and students launch rockets Thursday at the softball field behind Sibley Elementary School. -- Kari Langan/Albert Lea Tribune

By Kari Langan, staff writer

Rockets were swooping, plunging and diving at the field near Sibley Elementary School Thursday.

Albert Lea High School teacher Ken Fiscus was at the field teaching a Community Education course in model rocketry. Fiscus designed the course to run for four days. The course ran on a Monday ending on a Thursday morning with the ignition of the rockets. The first three days consisted of instructions of building the kits.

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A fourth-grader, Gage Dressen, has three years of experience with rockets and was enrolled in the intermediate level class. His parents originally encouraged him to attend the class.

“It’s fun to watch rockets go up, and I love building,” Dressen said. “It’s something to do during the summer.”

His mom, Rachel, enrolled him in the course because she likes letting him try different things.

“He kept going and he loved it,” Rachel said.

In the course, students built rockets from kits providing a range of levels. The kits are designed on four levels of mastery, which are beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert. There were a total of 17 rocketeers with 11 beginning-level students, two intermediate-level students, two advanced-level students, and two expert-level students.

Finalizing the work week is the grand finale of the steaming, exploding rocket engine. The thrust requires a launch rod, launch pad and launch controller.

Placing the rocket on the launch rod resting on the deflector plate, Fiscus, surrounded by students, connected the launch controller to the igniter. Fiscus pressed the launch consisting of an elecric burst. The moment of tension is between the ending result — success or failure.

And it was a glorious success.

Fiscus and students stepped away from the steaming device. The rocket soared toward the outfield of the basefield before landing in the green grass.

Students were accompanied and surrounded by family members cheering, laughing and smiling. Students have a high rate for returning the following year to continue with the course.

“I’m going to take it again,” Michael Farnes said.