At the Hadrian Hotel

At the Hadrian Hotel

Friday, June 23, 2006

3, 2, 1, Liftoff!

My son Mark and I recently built a water-powered rocket from plans in volume 5 of Make Magazine. We had fun building it, and Mark thought it would be a great idea to share it with rest of the kids on his 6th grade team at the Timberlane Middle School. He spoke to his science teacher and it was decided that we'd set up for a launch at the end of the day on the last day of school.

I set up the launch stand in the middle of a couple of soccer fields behind the school, leaving plenty of room in case the wind decided to take the rocket for a ride. Once the kids got out to the field, I spent a little time explaining how we built the rocket and how it worked. Then it was time to put some water in the bottle, pump it up to pressure, and see how far it would fly.

The launch and recovery were beautiful, despite the fact that the rocket lost 2 of its 3 fins (that's what we get for using 1/16" balsa wood instead of 1/8")! Fortunately, we had built a second lower (engine) stage using thicker wood for the fins. Based on the launch of that bottle, I suspect that we'll be able to use it for many flights to come.

My thanks to Mark's science teacher, Mrs. Martin-Kochis, and the rest of the teachers on the Mercury team for allowing us to bring the rocket in to demonstrate. I think that I had as much fun as the kids did. If you'd like to see a video of the first flight, you can check it out on Google Video.

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