Rocket Boys

By: Anthony Fraden

One of my highlights from this week of service learning in West Virginia would be having the chance to learn more about the Rocket Boys and actually meet some of them in person. The Rocket Boys were a group of teenagers in the 1950’s who had won the national science fair in order to get college scholarships so that they wouldn’t have to become coal miners. They had worked hard and studied a wide range of science and mathematics in order to win first prize, and it had been unexpected by most of their peers seeing as they were from a rural coal mining town in West Virginia. There was a festival being held in their honour, and there were a number of events being held. There was a 5k race, a pageant, a rocket building competition, and a book signing from Homer Hickam one of the Rocket Boys who had recorded their story in a memoir. It was a pretty busy event, with at least one or two hundred people in attendance. I also got the chance to meet with three of the Rocket Boys and I was able to have great conversations with them. I intend to pursue an engineering major when I get back to Elon, and several of the Rocket Boys had gone on to become engineers as their profession. I was able to have a great conversation with Billy Rose, who had graduated from WVU for electrical engineering. We talked for a little while before the rocket competition was to be judged, and I enjoyed getting to hear what he had to say to me. The entire day overall was a fun and filled with excitement and rockets. I was glad that I decided to come, especially since I got to learn from these men who had experienced a lot of change and worked hard to achieve their own personal success. This was by far one of my favorite moments of this week.

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