Rocket Boys

by Homer Hickam

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How do science and mathematics contribute to rocket construction in Rocket Boys?

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I think that the book does a great job in linking up the need for math and science to rocket development and space exploration.  The fact that the book takes place during the Sputnik launch is extremely important.  The launch of the Russian satellite was shown to capture the imagination of young American students, who were driven and motivated to examine the issue of space exploration and rocket launches because of Cold War fears, but also out of pure curiosity and interest.  Science and mathematics are shown to be fields of inquiry in which students can engage in trial and error, and can also satiate their curiosity and intellectual interest.  Science and mathematics are also shown as ways in which one can appropriate domains that were previously thought unreachable.  It is science and math that allows the boys to dream and to escape the life of Coalwood.  It does not seem that the Rocket Boys narrative is something that would have been as possible had the boys been passionate about seventeenth century English Literature.  Finally, I think that science and math are essential in the construction of rockets because it allows Homer to forge a relationship with Isaac Bygovski, demonstrating that math and science are universal languages that can be understood by anyone and can also help with the ends of pursuing the construction of rockets.

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