Saturday, April 23, 2016

Launch by the river

I was invited by the Creative Discovery Museum (CDM) to give a couple of "intro to model rockets" sessions to their home school classes on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.  The CDM is a pretty neat place located a couple of blocks from the Tennessee River, and about the same distance from the popular aquarium in Chattanooga; a long time friend currently works there, and it was he who made the initial contact to get things moving on the rocket classes. Not that I needed much prodding - I took advantage of the trip to visit my parents, something I need to do more often now that they are getting up in years. Anyway, there was one class of 19 3rd-5th grade home schoolers on Tuesday, and a smaller group of 8 on Thursday. The sessions were only two hours in length, so I prebuilt the rockets; the first class got the Estes Make-It-Take-It (red, white, and blue versions of the Alpha III), and the Thursday bunch were outfitted with Estes Generic kits. I could have allowed the kids to build the models using superglue, but experience with the Scouts suggests that this is not a good idea - too many stuck-in-the-wrong-place pieces and glued together fingers. So I built the rockets beforehand, giving the students plenty of time to decorate their models and learn how to pack the parachutes/streamers. This turned out to be almost perfect, as we were just able to decorate, prep, and fly in the 2 hour class period.

I initially thought we were going to fly in the AT&T Stadium, the home of Chattanooga's minor league baseball team, but that was a no go. Upon arrival, I was told we would launch in the greenway, which is a small patch of grass by the river. Things got even more restrictive when I went down to that area to set up the pad, as a good section of the greenway was cordoned off with tape due to a recent application of weed killer. This left only the narrow strip between the heavily-travelled road and the river, and I informed the kids that I was going to set up the pad so that the rockets would not land in the road. They could opt out of flying their rocket if they didn't want it to splash down in the river, which I thought was very possible, even though there was almost no wind on Tuesday. There was absolutely no way I was going to chance a rocket landing on a moving vehicle in that road.

Red x marks the location of the launch pad (Click to enlarge).
Fortunately, things went very well - the first class only lost one rocket, which hung in a small tree to the east of the pad, and the second class, which used streamers due to the stronger wind on Thursday, did not loose any. I was pleased to note the excitement of the kids as their rockets took to the air on the A8-3 motors; building is fun, but it ain't nothing like flying. The teacher was happy, and invited me to do some more rocketry sessions there in September. Again, a no-brainer; introducing young ones to model rocketry is one of the great joys of the hobby. I just hope that they will have found a bigger area in which to launch by then. I should also thank Lucien at the CDM, who got the necessary permissions from city officials to do this launch; I would not have liked to spend part of the trip explaining to the police why I was launching "mini missiles" in the middle of downtown.

A Make-It-Take-It blasts off on Tuesday.
An Estes Generic takes to the skies on Thursday.

No comments:

Post a Comment