Miss Freida Riley is a familiar name if you’ve ever read Homer Hickam’s Rocket Boys or watched the movie October Sky. Miss Freida Riley was the inspirational chemistry and physics teacher who helped the Rocket Boys of the Big Creek Missile Agency to become successful. Miss Riley was a dynamic teacher who held her students to the highest standard. The fourth graders at Wilder Elementary in Littleton, Colorado look to their teachers as modern day Miss Rileys, especially over the past few days as the students build and launch their own rockets in class. Pictured above is Mrs. Bower, Mrs. Scharton, Mrs. Boorom, and Miss Culver (Mrs. Friesen is not pictured).
“The rocket building activity is so great because our students get to use their creativity as they construct their own rockets,” says Toni Bower, one of the team of fourth grade teachers at Wilder. “As teachers, it is our goal to create a risk-free environment for the students to try out their ideas… to test a hypothesis… tofail… to try again… and to celebrate their own personal success.”
Melissa Culver’s students were beaming from ear to ear yesterday as they packed up their stuff and headed home to do their “rocket building” homework. “My kids were so excited about the launch. One parent came up to me this morning and said, My daughter couldn’t stop talking about rockets last night. I woke up this morning to a rocket whizzing past my head!”
The original inspiration for this unit came from the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Download the curriculum and get the plans for the rocket launcher.
The real Miss Riley died in 1969 from Hodgkin’s Disease. To the last, she insisted on teaching even when it was necessary for her students to carry her on a stretcher to her classroom.