Have you ever launched Estes model rockets with students or with your own children? As part of a “Power and Energy” class I took in 7th grade in Manhattan, Kansas, we built our own rockets and used Estes engines to launch them. That was certainly a memorable class project! A year or so ago, we purchased some Estes rockets and launched them as a family in our neighborhood with the help of a friend who was more experienced with amateur rocketry. We put a larger engine in one of the rockets for a later launch, and unfortunately it went so high (and was blown so far by the West Texas wind) that we weren’t able to recover it– It blew over/into a residential area beside the large park we launched from, and went into someone’s yard several blocks away.

Thoughts of model rocket launches today were inspired by Steve Jurvetson’s Flickr image stream which included this image of “Spontaneous Combustion” when a rocket launch went bad.

Spontaneous Combustion

That image is part of Steve’s large Flickr set titled “Rockets,” which includes this amazing image of the “LOC Precision V-2 rocket” Steve built and launched:

LOC Precision V-2 rocket launch

In the description to that photo, Steve linked to a 7 second video of the actual rocket launch:

How amazing is all this?! If you have students studying about the solar system, the space program, rocketry, and related issues of science and engineering, wouldn’t they find this content engaging and valuable?

Many of Steve’s images on Flickr have LOTS of details about the rocket launches. Consider the fact that this launch had an engine burn time of 15 seconds and went up to 46,000 feet MSL. WOW!

P2700 rocket motor launch

Here is another amazing launch of a rocket which actually achieved supersonic speed (breaking the mach barrier.)

Supersonic Shred – 1

G-forces at supersonic speeds led to a motor failure and eventual disintegration of the rocket.

Is your curriculum for students learning about science, the space program, and rocketry just limited to their textbook, videos shown on your classroom television, and library books? Hopefully not. Resources like these images and videos can provide fantastic supplementary materials for learners of all ages.

Since I am using the updated version of the free Flock web browser which integrates Flickr user photo streams to which I’m subscribed on the default homepage, that initial image by Steve caught my eye when I started my browser today. What is the word for the “chain of links” which lead to a unique learning experience or Internet destination? The narrative above is sort of like “virtual bread-crumbs” showing how this “side trip for learning” happened for me.

I’m ready to go launch some more model rockets! 🙂

BTW, are you interested in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers to realize their dreams and invent the future? If you are a teacher, I hope you are. Consider the following quotation from the post titled “GeekDad” from Steve’s blog in May:

From what I can see, the best scientists and engineers nurture a child-like mind. They are playful, open minded and unrestrained by the inner voice of reason, collective cynicism, or fear of failure.

Children remind us of how to be creative, and they foster an existential appreciation of the present. Our perception of the passage of time clocks with salient events. The sheer activity level of children and their rapid transformation accelerates the metronome of life.

Amen!

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One Response to A whole different level of amateur rocket launches

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptHave you ever launched Estes model rockets with students or with your own children? As part of a “Power and Energy” class I took in 7th grade in Manhattan, Kansas, we built our own rockets and used Estes engines to launch them. … […]

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