What was an "impressive pipe bomb, to be sure" in October Sky?

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Thanks to their newfound wealth of resources, Quentin and Homer (but mostly Homer) are able to work out their needs theoretically using all their new knowledge of rocket design and everything else to use.  Homer spends hours and hours and hours working out all the math and then designing the rocket according to those calculations.  He compiles all of it after some help from Quentin and takes the design in to show to Miss Riley who is duly impressed, and then they go together to show them to the principal who is worried they will blow themselves and perhaps some others up.  He is the one who calls it "an impressive pipe bomb to be sure."

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