Get ready for takeoff!

On Friday, December 2nd, students from Arthur J. Holland Middle School gathered in Cadwalader Park to participate in a rocket launch. Students stood astounded as their rockets blasted off over Trenton and safely glided back to land. While having the time of their lives, students also had a chance to learn valuable lessons about gravity, physics, and more.  The launch was led by the class’s teacher, Bruce Williams. As a part of his quarterly robotics class, Williams hosts a launch each semester to get his students excited about a future in STEM. As a fierce advocate for his students and the potential of Trenton youth, his dedication to our city’s youth is nothing short of inspiring.

When asked what first prompted him to hold this experiment, Williams stated “We need to have more minorities in STEM (science, engineering, technology, and math). I thought to myself, if they’re in my robotics class, one of the facets of robotics and STEM is rocketry. In 2025, we’re going to hopefully send another man back to the moon.” Continuing, he noted “I want to tell our kids, you don’t have to play sports. You can always be an engineer, a scientist, or a tech guy, so that’s what I thought we had to do.”

Regarding how the students reacted to the experiment, Williams laughed and stated “Well, they want me to buy more rockets! Since this is a quarterly course, I try to do it each quarter for my students. So I got these rockets many years ago and I tried to expose these guys to it, and the feedback I got was wonderful. They’ve never experienced that before – they were fascinated with how it projected in the air, how it had a delay, and how it projected to deploy the parachute.”

Besides an enjoyable afternoon, Williams hoped that this experiment would have a long-term source of inspiration for his student’s educational and career choices. “It was just pure excitement. A lot of people said ‘I want to go into space’ and I said, you certainly can! If you continue to do well, you can definitely be an astronaut, some type of scientist, or even some type of rocket scientist.”

Reflecting on his favorite parts of the launch, Williams stated “Just them building the rockets, the lost art of just putting things together. For these guys to build a rocket and for them to see it successfully launch was just an eye-opener for me. It was the highlight of my day. The sheer excitement that the students had, not only that day, but the continuation of them wanting to explore more about engineering and rocketry was just really cool.”

Williams had some encouragement with respect to how other Trentonians can help to get students in their lives involved in stem. “A parent’s encouragement – and I do have a lot of parent support. Always get involved with the school board. You know we have sports, but let’s make sure every school has some sort of STEM club, STEM project, or STEM-based electives, so we can increase our footprint in our community regarding STEM. The takeaway and the next step would be to just keep encouraging our kids to understand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Moments for encouragement can come anywhere – Williams noted “Anytime I tell these guys to come after school, they’re on their computers. So let’s program them, let’s be the next person to build another PlayStation 5. They’re so excited about video games, let’s be the people who program and make and develop new video games. If that’s what you love to do, there’s ample opportunity out there to be successful in any type of market.”

As his students grow and develop in this area, we look forward to the incredible things this next generation of Trentonians will do. Something as simple as a day in science class can fundamentally transform the trajectory of a child’s life, and you never know what will plant that seed. With a bit of patience and a whole lot of encouragement, your little one just may be the world’s next great innovator.

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