Kids make, launch paper stomp rockets at library event
By Gini DavisThey may not have realized it, but as they stomped on soda bottles to launch their handmade rockets high into the air during Creswell Library’s DIY Stomp Rockets event on July 19, kids were being introduced to the concepts of flight, pneumatics and energy transfer.
“The rockets work by forcing a burst of air through the PVC piping,” said Youth Librarian Nick Caum. “The air catches in the tip of the rocket where they had placed a cotton ball inside the rocket – and presto, flying rockets.”
The event, held in the library’s “backyard,” was part of Creswell Library’s “Build a Better World”-themed Summer Reading Program.
Kids colored and constructed paper rockets using provided directions. They then used PVC pipe launchers to launch their rockets. Once the rocket had been fitted onto the portion of pipe set at a 90-degree angle from the rest, the child jumped or stomped on an empty two-liter plastic soda bottle at the other end of the pipe, forcing air through the launcher to send their rocket aloft.
Enchanted, kids launched their rockets over and over again – sometimes building a second rocket after their first landed on the roof.
It was an activity that almost didn’t happen: “I was really stressing out over the weekend because out of the seven launchers and rockets we made, only one of them ended up flying,” Caum said. “I took all the rockets home and made adjustments to the forming tubes and was able to seat the caps deeper in the adapter and fortunately they all seemed to work.”
Another activity – balloon rockets – involved blowing up balloons, attaching them to straws, and releasing them to travel down a length of string as their air was expelled.
“We all know what happens when we fill a balloon with air and let it go: the air rushing out causes the balloon to fly around, but there is nothing guiding that air around the balloon in a constructive way so the balloon shoots around with no direction,” Caum explained. “Taping the balloon to the straw that is attached to the string forces the balloon to travel along the path of the string.”
The simple balloon rocket was designed to appeal to younger kids, but older kids were drawn to it as well. “We try to have something for the younger kids at our events and the balloon rocket seemed like a good fit for the program,” Caum said. “In the end, I think the older kids enjoyed the activity more than the younger kids.”
A bubble machine provided additional fun.
“It sure seemed like all the kids had lots of fun,” Caum said of the event. “I think this is an activity that we will bring back in future years.”
Several families expressed interest in having a stomp rocket launcher at home, and Caum said he’s offering the event’s launchers as Summer Reading Program prizes. “Kids can use their library dollars from their reading journals to purchase them,” he said.
Left photo:Samara Lindstrom gets some help making her paper rocket. Photos by Gini Davis
Right photo:A boy named Richie watches his paper rocket take flight after stomping on a rocket launcher constructed of PVC pipe during Creswell Library’s DIY Stomp Rockets event.