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thumb STEM_RocketBlastOffFamily teams can work together to safely build and launch a rocket July 20-21 at Tennessee Tech University’s Millard Oakley STEM Center.

The “Rockets & Engines: Build & Launch with NASA” event will offer afternoon workshops for families and morning and afternoon professional development experiences for teachers.

Two- to three-person family groups will build a rocket with an engine Saturday, July 20, and launch it Sunday, July 21. A family group must include one adult family member and may include one or two children. The activity is appropriate for 4th­–12th grade students. The family workshops are from 1:30–4:30 p.m. each day, and the family will keep the rocket.

Professional development workshops for 4th-12th grade teachers will be offered Saturday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. The morning workshops focus on teaching concepts of speed, velocity, energy, forces and motion. The educators’ launch workshop will continue Sunday, July 21, from 1:30–4:30 p.m. Teachers will receive six credit hours professional development and keep their rocket.

“The STEM Center invites families and regional educators to explore the principals of force and motion during our special Rockets and Engines workshops featuring John Weis of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center,” said Gail Gentry, outreach coordinator for TTU’s Oakley STEM Center. “We are offering separate rocket building workshops for the groups on Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon the families and teachers will gather together to launch their own rockets.”

Weis, a NASA aerospace education specialist, will cover speed and velocity, gravitational forces, kinetic energy, Newton’s Laws of Motion and more. He has been with the Aerospace Education Services Project for eight years.

He is responsible for education outreach including professional development for pre-service and in-service teachers, student and community outreach programs and liaising with state and local education agencies in the Marshall region of Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee.

Weis has a bachelor’s degree in science and mathematics teaching, with an emphasis in mathematics and physics, from Florida State University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from The University of Scranton. Before joining NASA’s AESP, he spent 10 years as a secondary science teacher in Volusia County, Florida. His areas of specialization include math, physics, earth and space science and astronomy education.

There is a registration fee of $15 per family or teacher. For more information or to make reservations and pay online, visit or call (931) 372-6573.

The Oakley STEM Center is on the campus of Tennessee Tech at the corner of West 7th Street and Stadium Drive.