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Class offers students a look at the ins and outs of building rockets

Brayden Sime rewires a rocket Friday at Willmar Middle School after it misfired. The rocket, which Sime dubbed “NoNonsense” took to the air after its fuse was replaced. Sime was participating in the annual two-day rocket camp offered through Willmar Community Education and Recreation and taught by Karen and Patrick Thibault, owners of Observation Studio. Tribune photo by Kyle Rozendaal

Most students avoid the classroom like the plague during summer break. However, there were six students who had a blast during rocketry class this week. During the class Thursday and Friday, the students learned about physics, built model rockets and sent them skyward at Willmar Middle School.

Karen and Patrick Thibault use their business Observation Studio to teach families and children about the night sky, model rocketry and other hobbies. The couple has run the annual two-day camp through Willmar Community Education and Recreation since 2012.

During the classroom hours, Patrick Thibault taught the students about thrust, force, the laws of physics and the basic functions of each part of a rocket.

On Thursday, when Thibault finished teaching, they constructed rockets using a kit, glue and tape.

On Friday the students spent time decorating the rockets with paints, glitters, colorful duct tape and decals.

While the paint was drying, Patrick taught the students about launch safety, had the students show him how they would conduct a safe launch and took them outside to launch a few of his own model rockets. Around 11:30 a.m., parents arrived and the students headed outside toward the launch pad to blast their creations into the air.

“These two days have been awesome,” said Aidan Wasik. “I’m just super-excited to watch everyone’s rockets launch.”

Before launching, Thibault instructed the students about rocket safety and quizzed them about proper safety measures one final time before handing them the launch key.

The models rocketed hundreds of feet into the air, the parachutes all deployed, and the students sprinted after their rockets to collect them as they fell back toward the ground.