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Rocket clouds
Rocket Boys von Mind Map: Rocket Boys

1. Main Characters

1.1. Homer Hickam, Jr.

1.1.1. Narrator & Protagonist of the story: Homer is a young teenager who begins building and launching rockets. He has a passion for creating rockets and hopes to be like his hero Dr. Wernher von Braun.

1.2. Homer's Family

1.2.1. Homer Hickam, Sr. (Father)

1.2.1.1. Homer's father is the superintendent of the mining company in Coalwood, which is the city's entire economy. He is not a fan of Homer's dreams to become a NASA engineer. He believes his son should follow his footsteps and take over the mining industry.

1.2.2. Elsie Hickam (Mother)

1.2.2.1. Homer's mother has been Homer's number one fan and supporter. She does not like the mining lifestyle and wants her family to leave Coalwood.

1.2.3. Jim Hickam

1.2.3.1. Jim is Homer's popular older brother. Jim and Homer are not very close; they tease each other throughout the entire book. Jim is known for his good looks and football athleticism.

1.3. Homer's Friends (BCMA=Big Creek Missile Academy)

1.3.1. Quentin

1.3.1.1. He is the "brainiac" of the group. Homer asked Quentin to join him and his friends because of his mathematical and research skills. He works with them to form BCMA to create and launch rockets.

1.3.2. O'Dell

1.3.2.1. He is Homer's friend and treasurer of the BCMA. He works diligently to obtain materials for the rocket designs and works to make the rockets.

1.3.3. Sherman

1.3.3.1. He is Homer's friend and the publicity person for the BCMA. He publicizes about their group's rocket efforts to gain interest from others. Homer is a great mathematician.

1.3.4. Roy Lee

1.3.4.1. He is Homer's friend who is the "ladies' man." He is in BCMA and drives the members in his car.

1.4. Mr. Isaac Bykovski

1.4.1. He is a mining worker of Homer Sr. that assists Homer Jr. with building rockets. He later dies from a mining incident.

1.5. Miss Riley

1.5.1. She is the chemistry teacher at Big Creek High School who encourages Homer and his friends to work with rockets. Because of Miss Riley's encouragement, BCMA enters the county science fair.

1.6. Mr. R. L. Turner

1.6.1. He is the principal of Big Creek High School. After sports were cancelled from the school, Turner promoted BCMA's efforts.

1.7. Mr. Caton

1.7.1. He works at a machine shop and helps Homer build and design rockets. Mr. Caton builds the rocket for Homer's science fair.

1.8. Jake Mosby

1.8.1. Jake is a young engineer who is wealthy. He financially supports Homer and his friends with their rocket building.

1.9. Mr. Hartsfield

1.9.1. He is a mathematics teacher at Big Creek High School who ends up teaching Homer calculus.

1.10. Reverend "Little" Richard

1.10.1. He plays the role of Homer's moral compass. He is the leader of Coalwood's black church.

1.11. Reverend Josiah Lanier

1.11.1. He is the preacher of a church in Coalwood that the Hickam family attends. He delivers a sermon that encourages Homer Sr. to support Homer in his rocket building endeavors.

2. Setting

2.1. Big Creek High School

2.1.1. This is another location where a lot of time is spent in the story. The Big Creek Missile Academy was created here by the teenage student members.

2.2. Coalwood, West Virginia

2.2.1. Coalwood is a coal mining town where the author/narrator grew up. The school, churches, and homes of main characters are located here.

2.3. Cape Coalwood

2.3.1. This is the location where Homer, Quentin, O'Dell, and Sherman practiced launching rockets because of the open space.

2.4. late 1950s to early 1960s

2.4.1. The story takes place during a time where the "Space Race" begins. Efforts and initiatives are focused on traveling in space similar to how the Soviet Union's Sputnik did.

3. Personal Insights into Relevance of Themes

3.1. Many students share the similar problem of wanting to chase their dreams and feeling unable to achieve that dream due to his upbringing and home life. Some parents are like Homer's father who have decided Homer's future for him. Homer's father wants his son to follow his footsteps and take over the mining business instead of "wasting" his time doing engineering. Many parents have a vision for their child that can either deter them from their true dreams or have them choose to go against their parents' desires.

4. Connections Between Themes and Real- World

4.1. Theme of Dreams: You have to work through obstacles to achieve your dreams just like Homer.                                                             Theme of "Space Race": We are still pushing for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as a nation as a result of the Space Race. America wants to be globally competitive in the STEM department.

5. Relevance to Educational (STEM) Contexts

5.1. The BCMA boys constantly went through the engineering design process throughout the book. First, they would identify the constraints for building rockets, such as choosing the right fuel and creating the appropriate nozzle. Next, they researched fuel mixtures, nozzle designs, and calculus to help with their best rocket design. Third, they developed possible solutions, and then selected the best solution. The boys built their first prototype. Then they tested and evaluated their design for a small audience. When the rocket doesn't meet their expectations, they improve the design. They repeat the process multiple times until the final time they get it to reach new heights.