Monday, July 26, 2010

"There is watermelon in my rocket lab!"

Sunday we had a spontaneous day of friends, watermelon and pneumatic rockets.

My darling husband is an engineer. He spends all his free time tinkering and building and reading about how to build. He recently came across instructions in Make Magazine for paper rockets powered by compressed air. And given William's fascination with all thing aerospace . . . . it seemed like a fun activity to do with him.

This isn't my husbands blog, so I am not going to give you schematics or instructions on how to build the launch unit. I do know he redesigned it slightly to be less expensive. He only used only pvc pipe and a sprinkler component for the launch unit. Then he attached that to an air compressor and portable battery - the battery was the "launch button". He is hoping to redesign it with an actual button.

[caption id="attachment_716" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Launch Unit"]Launch Unit[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_717" align="alignnone" width="270" caption="Launch Unit"]Launch Unit[/caption]

Then the kids set to work making their very own paper rockets. We had several extra pieces of pipe to use as a template for the rocket. The main components of the rockets were ordinary paper, scotch tape, and packing tape. Optional items included a nose cone and tail fins. The key to a paper rocket that flies is covering the entire rocket in packing tape and leaving no weak areas for air to get through. A weak rocket results in confetti. We probably had as many confetti rockets as we did fliers.

[caption id="attachment_718" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Designing the paper rockets"]Designing the paper rockets[/caption]

Children also had the option of decorating their rockets, but after the first few went up (and sometimes broke) we had to beg them just to put their names on the rocket. The adults became a little competitive too. Our 'winner' for the day was another dad. His rocket flew the highest (twice) and across the street. A few other rockets got lost in trees or on the roof.

[caption id="attachment_724" align="alignnone" width="239" caption="3, 2, 1, . . . . Blast Off!"]3, 2, 1, . . . . Blast Off![/caption]

Now that we have spent a few hours experimenting with the rockets launcher I can't wait to play more with rocket design. For kicks I decided to launch a pool noodle. We cut it in half and then taped up one ends with packing tape for a good seal. It didn't go very high because of the weight, but it flew.

[caption id="attachment_720" align="alignnone" width="270" caption="Pool Noodle Rocket"]Pool Noodle Rocket[/caption]

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