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Randy McEntaffer at the 2023 rise rocket launch event

Rockets for Inclusive Science Education

13 March 2024
Boy watches a model rocket launch off ground

Working together with members of the lab of Randy McEntaffer, department head and professor of astronomy and astrophysics, school-aged students in the RISE program build and launch model rockets. During the launch, students collect data using onboard single-board computers that they programmed to control accelerometers as well as temperature and pressure sensors.

“It is deeply impactful watching these intelligent, respectful, curious, and creative kids accomplish their goal of successfully launching the rockets they have been working on for so long,” McEntaffer said.

McEntaffer’s group has been working with students from underrepresented groups from the State College Area High School for several years. This year, the program expanded to the Al Madina School of Richmond, in Virginia, whose students toured the University Park campus and launched their rockets in June.

Bridget O'Meara and student
Bridget O’Meara talks with a student in the RISE program.

“This past year was the first time we ran RISE remotely with a school outside of State College” said Bridget O’Meara, mechanical engineer in McEntaffer‘s lab, who led instruction for the group this year. “I was so impressed by students and teachers from Al Madina School as we worked together to figure out the best way to present the project to the students. When everything went smoothly on the launch day, I was so proud of the students and all of their hard work!”