Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Rockets!

Wow, it has been over two months since I last posted. In some ways, I feel bad about that, but it's really just an indication of how busy I have been at Parallel Path.

Because of this busyness, I was determined to spend the Thanksgiving weekend 'unplugged' and not working, and to get in some quality time with my family. And it worked out just as I had hoped, with lots of throwing the football around, playing kickball, and generally goofing off. One of the highlights was on Friday, when the boys and I (and some other family members) spent the day shooting rockets. It was a beautiful, clear day with no wind; perfect for rockets.

As regular readers of this blog know, for many years I put on Big Science Saturday for the boys. That has waned quite a bit, but we still seem to find time for fun and practical applications of science, and launching rockets is a perfect example. We have been launching rockets (of theEstes variety) off and on for a couple of years now.

What was particularly fun about this launch is that we have started to experiment with getting the rockets to do fun things they weren't necessarily designed for. By doing so, I hope the boys start learning about some of the basic physics involved in rocket flight.

This weekend we experimented with launching an 'astronaut' in the rocket. The astronaut was made from Legos, and you can kind of see him in the lower left of
this photo (thanks to Pawel for all of the pics):

















The Lego astronaut had his own parachute that deployed separately from the rocket's recovery chute. We then went through several launch cycles, first by Maddox:











... then by Ryan:





















I'm not sure the boys learned much about rocket physics through the activity, but they did learn what happens when you don't put enough protective wadding between the rocket motor and your astronaut. We ended up with a very scorched astronaut dude:



Overall, a tremendous day.
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