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Henley High School’s engineering students have one more challenge before the end of year: It comes in 1,969 pieces and when complete will be a 40-inch Lego model of the Saturn V rocket.

James Loftus, director of JPLMuseum in Stayon, Ore., presented the model rocket to Henley High School’s engineering students last week. Henley was one of three Oregon schools awarded the gift of the Saturn V Lego’s model rocket. Other schools chosen were Bandon and Stayton high schools. The rocket is designed to be used as a hands-on, team-building exercise. Once put together, it can be taken apart and reconstructed by another group of students.

Model for learning

Loftus said Dr. Norm Chaffee, a now-retired NASA propulsion engineer who also worked on the Gemini Project and the International Space Station, purchased the Lego model rocket for Henley High School, one of more than 30 schools he visited last fall as part of an outreach program through JPLMuseum.

“We wanted to thank you for allowing us into your lives, into your schools, and we hoped that you learned something,” Loftus told the group of engineering students. “And we wanted to give you something you can use year after year. Don’t just build it and put it on the shelf. Build it, disassemble it, and let the next class build it. That’s the objective here.”

The rocket is assembled in parts and stages and is meant to be a team endeavor, Loftus said.

Seniors Thys deHoop and Dylan Huynh were looking forward to the task as they examined the back of the model rocket’s package.

“I really hope there’s instructions,” deHoop said. “We’ll do it before we graduate,” Huynh added.

Mission commitment

Loftus said Henley and the other schools were chosen, in part, because they demonstrated a commitment to assist JPLMuseum in fulfilling its mission of providing unique, nontraditional educational experiences by bringing NASA artifacts and engineers into classrooms as part of a rural schools’ educational initiative. JPLMuseum is named for Loftus’ father, Joseph Phillip Loftus, Jr., who worked NASA from 1962 until his retirement in 2001. When he retired Loftus was assistant director and engineering, space and life sciences director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

This year, JPLMuseum, with the sponsorship of Klamath County School District as well as PacifiCorp Foundation, Santiam Hospital, city of Stayton, 10 Barrel Brewing, HP Civil Engineering, and Stayton Ford was able to bring programming to 1,800 students statewide. Next year, it plans to offer Remote and Distant Interactive Online Sessions (RADIOS) in cooperation with the Oregon Connection Academy, Space Center Houston, and Project Lead the Way. RADIOS would offer remote live interactive broadcasts with active and retired NASA engineers. For more information, visit www.jplmuseum.org.