Trying to start a rocketry club at my school, but I'm having issues.

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nickrulercreator

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Since my freshman year, I've wanted to start a rocketry club at my school. We'd design and build our own rockets (and use pre-made motors that you can purchase online). My school requires signatures from 10 students and 1 faculty member to sign off on it as the sponsor. I had no problem getting the 10 signatures, but the faculty member is where I ran into some trouble. I asked a few of my teachers (engineering and chemistry), but both had small children who needed to be watched after school, and my engineering teacher already ran a club. That was freshman year.

This year, my sophomore year (I'm 16 now), I decided to go to my vice principal for help. We emailed a few times and then met twice discussing the club. I explained what the club would do, how it would benefit the school and members in the club, and other details. I also explained that it's a safe and fun activity (as long as everyone followed the rules/precautions), and I included that I have great experience in rocketry, building/launching dozens of kits/models with only one failure (due to a malfunctioning engine). I understand that this experience doesn't guarantee 100% safety and reliability, but it does show that I know what I'm doing and can ensure that the launches are as safe as possible. I also included that, if needed, we can have an official come down to the launches from the NAR to help further ensure safety.

My vice principal then told me he would talk with my principal and school board about it. Two days later I got an email from him saying it could not be approved. I was crushed. He didn't explain why, but he asked if there were other ideas I had for a club (astronomy/stargazing was one). My guess is that there were safety concerns, which is understandable. I emailed him this weekend just to ask exactly why it couldn't be approved, I still haven't heard back.

I'm crushed, though, as I've really wanted to start this club. I feel that it could have helped me and my classmates with colleges, engineering experience, and would have been fun for many people. I've been looking into other ways to start a club legally, but the only other way that I know of is through the NAR, and I need to be 18 for that. I have considered asking my dad, who is also interested in this hobby, with assistance in actually starting the club, but I don't know if I should try. Joining a club seems like the better/more realistic idea, and that is not a bad thing at all for me, but starting a club is something that I really wanted and still want to do.

Any assistance and advice is welcome. Thanks in advance for help.
 

XolveJohn

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Welcome to the world of RED TAPE. When you get out in the real world on a job, you may find lots of it. And get entangled. Skills you develop now to deal with it will help you later.

Rocket clubs used to be no big deal at schools, we had one in jr high in 7th grade, flew in a back football field.

I think all the terrorism is spooking people. At a local park we used to fly Eplanes at, the ranger said no more. And no frisbees either! Like that is a lethal weapon. I don't know what to tell you, other than just realize your school is not helping you, and you can still start a club on your own and fly elsewhere. Just find a big field and get permission.

Then you won't need 10 people, either. 1, 2, 3 or any number can come.
 

crossfire

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Where are you located? I see no reason you can't start a club of your own. It would be great to have parents of club members to help out and attend launches. First of all you need to get a launch site. A lot of land owners like to see students get involved in something like rocketry. You can do this. It for sure will help you in your education down the road.
 

nickrulercreator

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Welcome to the world of RED TAPE. When you get out in the real world on a job, you may find lots of it. And get entangled. Skills you develop now to deal with it will help you later.

Rocket clubs used to be no big deal at schools, we had one in jr high in 7th grade, flew in a back football field.

I think all the terrorism is spooking people. At a local park we used to fly Eplanes at, the ranger said no more. And no frisbees either! Like that is a lethal weapon. I don't know what to tell you, other than just realize your school is not helping you, and you can still start a club on your own and fly elsewhere. Just find a big field and get permission.

Then you won't need 10 people, either. 1, 2, 3 or any number can come.
friggen red tape. Yeah, I want to start my own club, preferably with the NAR, but I'm not 18.
 

nickrulercreator

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Where are you located? I see no reason you can't start a club of your own. It would be great to have parents of club members to help out and attend launches. First of all you need to get a launch site. A lot of land owners like to see students get involved in something like rocketry. You can do this. It for sure will help you in your education down the road.
I'm located in a town called West Chester in PA (about 35-45 minutes west of Philly). And me too, I don't know why I can't start one either. I launch most of my rockets on my uncle's friend's field with his permission, and it's a large field (about 550-600 ft from houses, which means I can fly up to G motors), so I have a launch site.

I just can't get my school to approve it for some reason. I am thinking of trying in the beginning of next school year (September 2017, my Junior year), and making a presentation in powerpoint to send to my principal, but I have no idea if that would work. What do I do? Can I make a club outside of my school at all? I know I can't with the NAR, but maybe my dad could and I could help run it. Thanks
 

DavidMcCann

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If you have a field already, and are interested in flying rockets, I'd go there and fly rockets, and skip making a club.
 

KennB

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I'm located in a town called West Chester in PA (about 35-45 minutes west of Philly). And me too, I don't know why I can't start one either. I launch most of my rockets on my uncle's friend's field with his permission, and it's a large field (about 550-600 ft from houses, which means I can fly up to G motors), so I have a launch site.

I just can't get my school to approve it for some reason. I am thinking of trying in the beginning of next school year (September 2017, my Junior year), and making a presentation in powerpoint to send to my principal, but I have no idea if that would work. What do I do? Can I make a club outside of my school at all? I know I can't with the NAR, but maybe my dad could and I could help run it. Thanks
I think you can start a NAR Section especially if your dad would be willing to act as the Senior Adviser. Check the NAR website on Starting a New Section. Back in the day, many, if not most sections, were student groups with one adult as Senior Adviser.

Also, while you're on the NAR site, check the Find a Club Today tab toward on the right-hand side of the page; there's one in Philly that flies north of the city. If it's too far for you to get to regularly, they might be able to help you set up your new section.

Look into the TARC activity as suggested above. Print out the info there and show your school's administrators; they may see the value of supporting your ideas.

I wish you well.
 

DavidMcCann

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You'll find in dealing with schools, it's usually money not safety that gets things shut down.
 

Rex R

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fyi; for the site demensions you list, the safety code limits you to D impulse motors. for anything bigger your field needs to have a minimum of 1000' per side. what is the big deal you may ask? the safety code has been incorporated into NFPA 1122 which in turn has been adopted by many states as law covering model rocketry activety.
Rex
 

boatgeek

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If you really want this school club (and it sounds like you do), you need to put in some time to make it happen. First stop: the principal. Ask at the office for an appointment to meet with him after school. Don't challenge the decision not to allow the club, just ask specifically what is standing in your way. He may give you some reasonable objections that the has, or he may point outside the building. District legal/risk is a good scapegoat for him. If the problems are in the principal's control, ask what you can do to resolve them. The biggie is probably safety. The principal and the district are probably seeing a field full of teenagers with bottle rockets in their heads. Here's where having a local rocketry club is a good thing--most people that see a well-run launch quickly see that it's about learning, not fireworks. Ask the principal if he can come to a launch to see what this hobby is all about.

If the problem is at the district level, try to get a name from the principal. Go through the same process. At the same time, go to the school board. If you're in a district where school board members have community meetings, go to one of those. Otherwise, go to a school board meeting. You will probably get a chance to introduce yourself to one or more members of the board. Do that and tell them that you're looking for. Google up some news stories about TARC teams that do well. Elected officials like school board members love good press.

Above all, be friendly, polite and extremely persistent. Bring data and information to address concerns. Many school officials tell people no the first time they get asked just to winnow out all of the people who don't really care about it. At some point, people will figure out that it will take less of their time to give you a yes than it will to keep talking to you. Good luck!
 

qquake2k

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fyi; for the site demensions you list, the safety code limits you to D impulse motors. for anything bigger your field needs to have a minimum of 1000' per side. what is the big deal you may ask? the safety code has been incorporated into NFPA 1122 which in turn has been adopted by many states as law covering model rocketry activety.
Rex
He didn't give the field dimensions, he said it's 550-600 ft from houses.
 

CaptainVideo

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I think another posters advice is good, schedule a meeting with the principal and see if you can get a reason out of him. I suspect is has to do with "GUNZ, FIREWORKS, TERRORISM!!!", zero tolerance nonsense which have infested schools like a plague. Some kid in one school got raked over the coals for bringing in a quarter sized lego gun. A school that anal would never permit a rocketry club.
As kind of a workaround, you could always ask if you could start a water rocketry club. Nothing preventing the members from having some "informal" weekend LPR launches.
 

cherokeej

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I think the answer you will receive will have something to do with legal liability. It only takes one "oops" and the attorneys get involved.

That's why you need a NAR section. Find your local NAR section, and talk to them. As mentioned previously, get involved in TARC. Demonstrate for your faculty and admin that it can be done, done well, and done safely. Then when you graduate a senior with a NAR sponsored college annuity fund received for your winning entry in the international TARC competition, you can look them in the eye and say "You were wrong."
 

nickrulercreator

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fyi; for the site demensions you list, the safety code limits you to D impulse motors. for anything bigger your field needs to have a minimum of 1000' per side. what is the big deal you may ask? the safety code has been incorporated into NFPA 1122 which in turn has been adopted by many states as law covering model rocketry activety.
Rex
Those aren't the field demensions, just the distance from houses. The field dimensions are about 1100x1100 (estimated through gps)
 

nickrulercreator

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If you really want this school club (and it sounds like you do), you need to put in some time to make it happen. First stop: the principal. Ask at the office for an appointment to meet with him after school. Don't challenge the decision not to allow the club, just ask specifically what is standing in your way. He may give you some reasonable objections that the has, or he may point outside the building. District legal/risk is a good scapegoat for him. If the problems are in the principal's control, ask what you can do to resolve them. The biggie is probably safety. The principal and the district are probably seeing a field full of teenagers with bottle rockets in their heads. Here's where having a local rocketry club is a good thing--most people that see a well-run launch quickly see that it's about learning, not fireworks. Ask the principal if he can come to a launch to see what this hobby is all about.

If the problem is at the district level, try to get a name from the principal. Go through the same process. At the same time, go to the school board. If you're in a district where school board members have community meetings, go to one of those. Otherwise, go to a school board meeting. You will probably get a chance to introduce yourself to one or more members of the board. Do that and tell them that you're looking for. Google up some news stories about TARC teams that do well. Elected officials like school board members love good press.

Above all, be friendly, polite and extremely persistent. Bring data and information to address concerns. Many school officials tell people no the first time they get asked just to winnow out all of the people who don't really care about it. At some point, people will figure out that it will take less of their time to give you a yes than it will to keep talking to you. Good luck!
Thank you, this is probably the best reply on here so far.
 

tomsteve

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nick, I applaud you for wanting to start a rocketry club! there are many people here, and even people in NASA, with space X,blue origin, virgin galactic,and other aerospace industries that got their start at a young age and in school.
im not sure what you used to propose the rocketry club( I didn't read all of your replies) but it may be wise to be have a boatload of information on rocketry and what im thinking is the sciences and math behind it would be good information- how it would be great for teaching and also open on a students mind to the possibility of future career choices. basically, the pros of a rocketry club. just my opinion, but theres more possibilities for the future for students in a rocketry club over, say, a chess club, disc golf club (they do exist at schools),jewelry club,etc. although I don't know if I would mention that.

don't give up!! im wondering if theres any way to get a copy of the school board meeting to find out if the idea was even brought up. not sayin your VP might be a little dishonest, but just saying "no" with no reasons why sounds fishy.
id also suggest starting the process this school year.
and during the summer, work at getting other students and kids interested!! maybe invite some of the other kids/students to launch and have a couple rockets they could prep and push the button for.
 

tomsteve

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p.s.
reading the replies from the other members, im thinkin ya have a group here to help you find solutions for problems during the development of the club.
 

kcobbva

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As everyone stated, TARC is probably the best way to go. Check out the TARC site. https://rocketcontest.org/ In the forms area; look at the 2017 TARC Mentor list. I see a number from PA. Maybe someone is close, or at least reaching out maybe they know someone from close to your area willing to mentor at team at your school. It's really an awesome and proven program. That should help. https://rocketcontest.org/about-the-contest/documents-forms/
Best of luck!
 

boatgeek

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I think another posters advice is good, schedule a meeting with the principal and see if you can get a reason out of him. I suspect is has to do with "GUNZ, FIREWORKS, TERRORISM!!!", zero tolerance nonsense which have infested schools like a plague. Some kid in one school got raked over the coals for bringing in a quarter sized lego gun. A school that anal would never permit a rocketry club.
As kind of a workaround, you could always ask if you could start a water rocketry club. Nothing preventing the members from having some "informal" weekend LPR launches.
I work with a rocketry club in a school district that is that uptight about guns. It can be done, with a little persistence. In my case, the real work of getting the club set up was done by a teacher over a decade ago.

Thank you, this is probably the best reply on here so far.
Thank you! I've been trying to influence our school board for a long time, and I'm happy to share what works. One other thing to think about--check out your local YMCA, 4-H, church groups, etc. to see if they would be willing to sponsor you. There are an awful lot of TARC teams from those types of organizations.
 
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