Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Marching band season is over. My son’s band had its last home football game awhile ago. At the regional competition they placed fourth out of fifteen in their division. I thought my weekends were now my own. Wrong. This weekend was the start of the rocket club season.
A few years back, the National Association of Rocketry started the Team America Rocketry Challenge for school-aged kids to develop more interest in the hobby. That rocketry is tied to math and science makes it an easy sell to schools. Civil Air Patrol chapters and Explorer troops also enter.
For the competition, each team must design and launch a rocket that reaches a specified height and the flight (including the parachute landing) must last a certain length. This year the goals are 850 feet and 45 seconds. Oh, and the rocket must hold an egg which has to land unbroken. When the team has it perfect, they have only two launches they can submit to the competition to qualify for the national championships.
To get the kids going, the faculty advisor has them each design and build their own rocket first. My son built one about 2-1/2 feet tall that holds two rocket engines or “motors” as the jargon calls them. A local rocketry club has launches once a month at a local park. The club lets the students use the club's launchers for test trials.
On my son’s first launch, the rocket lost its parachute and plummeted to the ground. The rocket landed mostly intact, but the egg was nothing but a runny orange mess inside the rocket body. The second launch, which is the one in the video, with a borrowed parachute, went straight up and practically landed right back on the pad.
How does this affect me? It means I must now a bunch of Saturdays between now and April hanging around the various rocketry sites while the kids fine tune their rocket design. All you soccer moms and hockey dads think of me as your kids are playing their indoor winter sports while I spend the frigid weekends of the next few months keeping my neck craned up watching out for falling rockets.
Blatant Comment Whoring™: What sort of whacky activities have your kids dragged you into? Or, if you don't have kids, what have you forced others to watch you do?