Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day One ... Let's Launch Some Rockets!

The last bus stop of the school year...
Summer vacation began yesterday afternoon if you are a public school student in Charlotte, North Carolina and the hot topic of conversation since about February has been summer camp. As in, where are you sending your child to camp?

Camp can be a lot of fun. It can also be a lot of money and a logistical nightmare when you have multiple children. As I packed my last set of school lunches yesterday, checked bookbags, looked for shoes (are they wearing any?), and lightly nudged my children out the door of the minivan as we rolled through carpool drop-off, I cannot say that I was sad to say good-bye to this early (very early) morning ritual for the next 75 days. And, to answer the question posed earlier, where are my children going to summer camp, my children will be attending Camp Brighton.

Camp Brighton has all the amenities of a traditional day camp - arts and crafts, organized activities, a little water play, and snack time. Camp Brighton does not require a lot of money or lunches packed the night before. Camp Brighton does not even require shoes.

Day One ... Rocket Launching

Day one of Camp Brighton found us - all 6 of us - attending a previously scheduled activity (we love those kind!) - rocket launching! Who doesn't love a good rocket launch on a gorgeous June afternoon? This activity is recommended for children ages 10 and up with hands-on adult participation. That being said, the children that were involved in this launch activity were all under 10... truth be told they were more spectators and in charge of the countdown. Even so, this activity provided over 90 minutes of fun in the middle of a scorching hot afternoon. A few smaller children were bothered by the noise and a few older children were not happy to see their rockets land in treetops but, for the most part, this activity was a blast...

Where to begin?

There are a few options for rocket launching - some more basic than others. Since this was the first time my 6 year olds have been a part of any launching parties, my husband took the easier rocket route. He headed over to Hobby Lobby and looked for RTF (ready to fly) rockets made by Estes. Estes has a great website with a wide variety of rockets (click here to access their site.) You can purchase RTF rockets, easy to assemble rockets, or different kits that are geared for much older children or adults. The simplest rocket can be purchased for less than $10 but it is so small that it doesn't come with a recovery parachute. For a few dollars more, you can get a rocket that can go pretty high in the air and gradually descend once its attached parachute opens.

Can you see the rocket?
In addition to a rocket, you will need a launcher and an engine. If this is your first rocket launch, you can purchase a kit that comes with a rocket and launcher for less than $30. You can purchase additional packages of engines and igniters to do more and more launches. Read the engine size and your rocket size carefully to make sure they match up - bigger is not always better. Our group's first rocket went so high, got picked up by a little gust of wind, and came down across a busy road. Oops!

We all met up at the field of a local school for the launch - do your best to find some open air and a dearth of trees. Although it was exciting to watch the rockets lift off quickly in a puff of smoke, the children might have had even more fun chasing the rockets as they swirled back to earth attached to their parachutes. This is certainly a great activity that can be enjoyed with one child or a large group. I will certainly chalk up Day 1 at Camp Brighton as a complete success.

Please post any additional tips or suggestions in the comments section if you have done this with your kids!  
The chase was sometimes the best part.

More rocket launching resources ...

If you are interested in more ideas for testing out Newton's Third Law of Motion through rocket launches, check out the links below:

Build a Bubble-Powered Rocket! (NASA)   
Wired-Science: Geek-Dad Soda Bottle Rocket

No comments:

Post a Comment