Flight of Icarus

This week we completed the remaining two science projects that came in the box from ‘Einstein in a Box‘, and the main theme was rockets.

inaboxMy daughter has recently started to read a book about Greek Mythology and as a result we named the rocket adventure to ‘Project Icarus‘.  This is by no means an attempt to state that we built a rocket with honey and feathers, and we are not aiming for the sun.  But, once built, these rockets get used so much that they gradually disintegrate – just like Icarus’ wings 🙂

In case you are not familiar with Icarus; his father constructed wings from feathers and wax, to help him escape Crete.  Unfortunately Icarus ignored the instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and as a result the wax started to melt and he crashed into the ocean where he drowned.

Our previous rocket adventure, now renamed to ‘Phileas Fogg‘, was a great success and we had a blast making the balloon propelled rocket from scratch.

This new science challenge was slightly more complicated and required a little more DIY fingers – something that I at times struggle with as I have at least 8 thumbs.

The kitchen table was converted into our science bench, protective glasses on and armed with our notebook, we started the experiments.

Rocket on a Straw

sciencetableAgain, using the ‘Einstein in a Box‘ ingredients, we assembled a simple paper rocket that was hollow, and this empty space allowed us to insert a straw.  Once the straw had been inserted, the rocket could be launched.  The distance of the rocket was based on two things; the amount of air you could force through the straw and of course the length of your living room.

The rocket flew across the room in straight lines, hitting the St Bernard, TV, other kids, picture frames and me.  Thankfully it’s a fairly soft rocket and after a few tries the nose started to take damage.  What was amazing was that my 3-year old had loads of fun blowing the rocket off the straw.

Sponge Rocket

rocketInside the box were the remaining tools to build the last rocket, which promised the most powerful of the three rockets.  This rocket was powered by an oversized elastic band attached to the nose of the rocket.  It sounds easier than it is, but constructing this rocket did require us to focus more on engineering as we need to design the wings and attach these … which we did after a few tries.

We had to cut the foam body precisely to allow us to insert the wings, and at the same time ensure that it was balanced correctly for optimal flight.

Once we had completed this challenges, we used a wooden ruler to attach the rubber band and aim it in the direction we wanted to launch it.  It flew across the room gracefully and landed straight on top of the St Bernard.

What we really enjoyed with ‘Einstein in a Box‘ concept is that you really learn science while having fun and without being stuck in a classroom.  The experiments are simple and very insightful.  Using the web site is perhaps not as necessary, but it still acts a good support site.

science1Furthermore, just because you might have completed the various rockets, it doesn’t mean you can continue to have fun with the box.  You can easily refill the components you’ve used and you can extend the experiments to be even more fun; custom rocket wings, bigger elastic band, designing transportation devices to be attached under the rocket or simply continue the fun with out of the box rockets.

But, as a parent, what really amazed me the most was the fact that we as a family had so much fun doing these science experiments and my kids actually asked me a few occasions to do the rockets again.  Now, that’s amazing.  The crave to learn as long as it’s fun.

Lastly, if you haven’t signed up to the ‘Science in a Box‘, then you have to do it.  It’ll be interesting to see what’s in the coming boxes.  Have fun and enjoy STEM!

We are now a STEM family 🙂

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