Davion Hunt Wader had a look of accomplishment on his face after launching his rocket into the sky.
"I thought mine was gonna fail at first because I had a hard time building it, but when I launched it, it went all the way into the parking lot," he said.
As their parents and teachers snapped photos, Hunt Wader and his fellow Flynn Elementary schoolmates were watching their hard work take off.
"It's like amazing just watching how they get launched, it's just amazing," said Jack Tulkop, a fifth-grader.
But having a blast Friday afternoon wasn't all just for fun. Each student built their own rocket ship from scratch from a kit before they set it off for their friends, family and classmates. The project was part of the STARBASE program. Their mission is to raise kids' interest and skills in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM subjects. The program is located on the Vermont Air National Guard base and has reached more than 21,000 Vermont students since it started almost 20 years ago.
"We're learning about physics, Newton's three laws of motion and how it applies to launching a rocket and building a rocket," said Paige Montgomery of the STARBASE program.
Learning these subjects is becoming more important. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM workers earned about 70 percent more than the national average in 2005. According to a 2012 BLS report, in Vermont, computer and mathematical occupations have an average salary 24 percent higher than the average Vermont salary.
Students also learned skills applicable to the workplace.
"They had positions such as project manager or they had to keep up with the budget, so it was very businesslike, very real-world experience," said Tashika Solomon, a fifth-grade teacher.
Hunt Wader's parents, whose other two children have participated, say watching their kids' projects take flight never gets old.
"I want to launch one now," dad Anthony Glosson said.
"I want to make one now; it's so interesting," mom Sylvia Glosson said.
STARBASE tells us that at the elementary school level, a lot of students are not interested in STEM subjects, but by seeing how fun using the lessons in these subjects can be, sometimes they change their minds.
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