Let's talk about Rockets
In keeping with my theme of lifelong learning, I've always been fascinated by Rockets. When I was a kid, my uncle would take my cousin and I over to a cornfield in rural Pennsylvania and we would spend hours launching (and finding) rockets among the rows of corn. As I got older, my uncle started to up the ante on our amateur test flights. He challenged me to try and determine where the rocket would land before we even launched it. This encouraged me to think more critically about angles, velocity, wind resistance, and some of the general forces behind "rocket science". After all, every Rocket Scientist starts somewhere.... and this amazing tool probably didn't exist yet.
Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but that doesn't mean I don't love carrying on that legacy with me as I get older, here are some gallery shots and a video of my most recent rocket launch : ) If you have any questions about how to get started I'll put some protips below!
1. don't both using model glue... just use Elmer's and/or Crazy glue.
2. Make sure you buy lot's of wadding! That's the stuff that protects your rocket's parachute from the engine.
3. Make sure all of your rocket components are all designed for the rocket you intend on flying. This includes the launch pad, the tube body, and the engines.
4. Buy arts and crafts materials ahead of time, but don't spend too much time on the looks. You'll probably blow a few rockets up anyways.
5. Go somewhere safe and out of the way of trees, power lines, etc.
6. if you can find somewhere with a flag, it's a good way of making sure the wind is blowing in the direction you think it is.
7. Newton was crazy about the number 7, and he's largely responsible for the same laws of motion rocket scientists use today. So here is my 7th point, just for his sake.
Keeping the dream alive!
Rockets are awesome for a million reasons. They're an easy project to get off the ground (pun intended) and they're sure to amaze and engage anyone with enough patience and grit to cross the t's and dot the i's. For educators, rockets also present an incredible opportunity to conduct project, or challenge based learning opportunities. Obviously I recommend going out and making sure you demonstrate basic competence yourself before you try and bring something like this into the classroom, but once you do I'm sure you'll be turning heads. Additionally, there are a few safety concerns with rockets, please make sure you read any and all safety directions on the rocket engines, tube body, launcher, and basically anything else you can find safety advice on. Goggles are a must, and engines should only be accessible when the rocket is about to launch.
Finally, use common sense and rockets might be one of the best things you do with your students. (Or with friends and/or loved ones)