(Left to Right) Mike Spreng, Oliver Spreng, and Sean Donnelly work on their rockets during St. Giles Rocket Day. | Todd Bannor.

Looking for a fun way to celebrate the last days of school and incorporate STEM, St. Giles School hosted its second annual Rocket Day, where students launched their self-made “rockets,” and then themselves, into summer. 

Hosted on Thursday, June 8, at Taylor Park, Rocket Day allows students at St. Giles, 1034 Linden Ave., Oak Park, to spend time outside, enjoying pizza, and working on building rockets using paper rolls and other items. 

Brandon Wuest, a parent of three students at St. Giles was involved in the creation of “Rocket Day,” after moving from California, where he participated in a similar event. 

“I thought it was a good tie into STEM learning,” Wuest said. “It was something that we used as a back-to-school event and a lot of teachers used it to tie certain aspects of the curriculum. We found out there was a big appetite [for it] at St. Giles.” 

Following the popularity of the event last year, St. Giles decided to host it once again.

“One of the things I appreciate about St. Giles is the very social, active community,” he said. “There is a desire to bring families together, parents and kids. Any additional enrichment or activity that we could do for the kids. Getting into STEM activities, it was well received.” 

Wuest also said by incorporating the rocket launchers into these types of activities it opens the door for students to be curious about how things work and further their interest in STEM. 

“I think they are incorporating science and technology and engineering,” he said. “We can tie the things they are learning in school into a more fun application.” 

Wuest said the younger participants love being able to decorate the launchers, while the older kids get more creative and experiment in how they build the launchers and what materials they use to get the best results. Kids built rockets out of paper tube rolls, tape, index cards, Easter egg shells, and were also able to decorate them before launching them in the park.

“Any time we can find opportunities to get kids excited in these areas, it’s really positive,” he said.

Rosemary Kufta, fifth-grade science teacher at St. Giles, said being able to have students be hands-on allows them to explore and learn about trial and error, furthering their knowledge and interest in science. 

“I like Rocket Day because you get to build your own rocket and it’s fun to see how far your rocket can go,” said fifth-grader Jimmy Schurer. “You can modify your rocket and try it again. You can make changes if it doesn’t go right. Rocket Day feels like you’re launching your rocket at the same time as you’re launching off into summer, and it feels really cool.”

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