PERU — Dirigo Middle School science teacher David Buck gave lessons to the Cougar Cub after-school program at Dirigo Elementary School last week on how to build a rocket.

Buck was chosen two summers ago to attend a space camp for teachers in Huntsville, Ala., and spoke of his experiences there.

“I’m not an astronaut,” he told the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. “Astronauts are amazing people.”

He said he was fully involved in science, technology, engineering and math at the camp.

“When I was a kid in high school, I loved science, but I wasn’t very good at it,” he said. “Don’t let the grade tell you (that) you don’t like it.”

He taught some of the theory behind launching rockets by asking students to create a paper rocket with a penny in the nose to give it stability, and to always wear safety glasses when experimenting.


The students were divided into a half-dozen groups with teachers or educational technician assistants and launched their rockets. The ones with the penny in the nose responded better than those without.

Buck said real rockets use air to burn the rocket fuel. In rocket-making classes, he has used vinegar and baking soda to get a similar effect.

He said the space camp, sponsored by Honeywell, aims to transform students’ view of science and encourages them to become involved in engineering and design.

“The experience gave me more confidence to try many activities,” Buck said.

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