By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Third grade students from Colorado Academy built and launched rockets Thursday inside the Denver Museum of Nature & Science learning the science behind a fun activity, an example of the programming planned for Energy Day.

“We are launching our rockets,” said Sydney Fox, 8, a third grade student. “I put the cone in, and then I just rolled it up.”

A class from the school visiting the museum participated in a lesson to help them appreciate science at a young age and experience the subject in a hands-on activity.

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Students had to cut paper for the body of the rocket using an empty pill container to form a cylinder. They also shaped the cone for the nose of the rocket. Each boy and girl had to choose if they wanted a long or short rocket. They could also adjust the shape of the nose cone and if the rocket should have any fins.

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“It’s better to do it with fins,” said Jordyn Bezoza, 8, another third grade student. “Because I’ve seen the people that have done it with fins have been more successful.”

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Students then placed the rockets on a launch machine. They had to pump enough air pressure before pressing a button to launch the rocket sideways into a corridor of the museum.

The variables quickly revealed to the students the difference in distance their rockets could travel. Staff at the museum had placed markers to measure how far rockets landed from the launch station. Some labeled as the moon, another like the planet Mars.

“I launched rockets and it was really fun,” said Eli Rockmore, 8, a third grade student. “Mine didn’t fly so well but it was still pretty fun watching others fly them.”

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The museum often uses this lesson for third grade students to help them make the connection of STEM subjects becoming future careers. Energy Day on Saturday is sponsored by the industry and the museum. The goal is to help young children see these fields of study as fun and engaging topics.

“This class is really all centered around experimentation, thinking about the principles of flight, investigating things,” said Nathan Hayes, the coordinator for offsite programs at the museum. “Making some decisions and seeing what happens.”

Not only is the activity engaging but it requires problem solving. It can introduce them into complex fields of study like space travel and flight, building their curiosity.

“The museum does a lot of different things with all sorts of STEM careers,” said Hayes. “This one is great because It really shows them that they can be in control, and they can make decisions around some of these big issues.”

Students told CBS4 they were wondering about the actual rockets they see entering space, asking new questions based on this activity.

“I kind of want to learn how they work, and what makes them go so far,” said Bezoza.

Other children mentioned they were interested in the other ways to fuel a rocket besides what they saw at the museum.

“I want to see what it takes the big rocket with the air pressure because they use gas instead,” said Fox.

More students will get the chance to try out this activity and other STEM related programming at Energy Day, Saturday, Sept. 22 at East High School from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The reviews from this class suggest many more children will enjoy building and launching rockets.

“It’s fun,” said Rockmore. “They’ll learn how to make a rocket.”

The students say the activity reminded them why they like learning science as well.

“If you make a mess, they’re not like clean that up, they say try it again,” said Fox.

“You get to try to do new things,” added Bezoza. “If it doesn’t go well, you can always try again.”

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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