Betabox Does Community Day

In Field Trip Stories by Sean Newman Maroni

While Betabox provides K12 experiences that enable students to discover and interact with hands-on STEM activities, giving back to the community, especially for those who may not have the same opportunities for new technology exposure, has always been a top priority.

It was with that in mind that Betabox headed down to Henderson, North Carolina to participate in a very special event: Henderson’s 10th Annual Community Day. Co-hosted by Oasis of Hope Ministries and Turning Point Community Development Corporation, this annual event is a way of honoring and serving the people in their community. Conditions could not have been more perfect as families from Henderson and surrounding areas came together to join in on the festivities including games, school supplies, free haircuts, health and education resources, hot food off the grill, and music.

The crowd says, ‘Three, Two, One, Blast Off!’ in unison as each rocket was shot into space.

The Countdown Begins

So how did Betabox contribute to such a fun day? By bringing our 3D Rockets and Virtual Reality Experiences for all to enjoy!  While I am fond of all our Experiences, truth be told, 3D Rockets is a personal favorite of mine. Students agree that on the “Fun Factor” scale of 1–10, 3D Rockets is a solid 11!!
Our 3D Rockets Experience gives students a lesson in design thinking, mechanical engineering, and physics as they are tasked with constructing and launching their rockets into the sky using 3D-printed and various crafting supplies.
Before putting on our engineering hats, we began by giving the students a lesson in aerodynamics by discussing weight distribution, shapes and contours, and equilibrium and considered how each of these plays a factor in projectile performance. To help students understand how these concepts affect velocity, we often use the analogy of a minivan vs. a sports car. These students were asked to describe the differences in appearance and shape of the two vehicles while relating to their respective speeds.
From there we sent the young innovators off to the design center to customize their rockets utilizing “speed of thought” materials (an engineering term meaning craft supplies that include card stock, pipe cleaners, stickers, scissors, tape, glue, etc…). Once constructed, the real fun began!

3, 2, 1… We Have Lift Off!

After a brief safety lesson, participants of Community Day were then able to test their rockets by sending them into the sky. Parents assisted young ones and those who were older launched their rockets themselves. The crowd says, ‘Three, Two, One, Blast Off!’ in unison as each rocket was shot into space. Some rockets launched with no problem while others had less luck and we used this as an opportunity to talk more about the design process, the importance of iteration, and how to analyze  improvements that could be made.

As always, there were a few students who wanted more of a challenge (which we always love) and for them we added an extra element. “Moon rocks” were distributed and the students were tasked with predicting how the additional weight of the rocks would affect their rockets’ flight. Sprinkle in a little friendly competition to see whose rocket would soar the highest and you have a recipe for engaged learning and memorable fun. In addition to the physical components of rocketry, Virtual Reality headsets were available inside the Betabox allowing the curious to experience outer space in immersive, computer-simulated environments.

Conclusion — Prepare For Landing

As a general Betabox “rule” we try to let our participants walk away with some kind of tangible reminder that they can bring home, and so every participant at this event was able to keep their personally designed rockets! Overall, Henderson’s 10th annual Community Day was a success. Rooted in the spirit of family, community, education, and fun, Betabox was proud to do our part in giving back and, ultimately, empowering the next generation of engineers. One small leap for Betabox, one giant leap for future scientists (sorry, I couldn’t resist)!

If you’re interested in learning more about our 3D Rockets or Virtual Reality Experiences and Quests, shoot us a message. We’d love to hear from you.