Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's not Rocket Science

A lot of things around our town are full of rocket science. Not the kind that nerdy jokes are made of, but the actual shake-your-windows-in-the-middle-of-the-day-because-we're-firing-rockets-today kind. It feels like a bit of an earthquake or possibly my stomach growling, but actually it's a test firing and those happen pretty regularly.

You might know our story and that Jason and I are space geeks. And, as the old saying goes, geeks breed geeks, so our boys love anything to do with rockets and space.

I recently wrote an article for Growing Up Magazine {so thrilled to be a part of it; it's a local parenting magazine and they asked me to write for them! EEK!!} so if you are visiting from reading that- Hey! So nice of you to stop by!
You can check out the whole article here if you aren't local, but the main point is letting your kids have some unscheduled time in their days to develop their creativity. I even did research and stuff. It's all kinds of official.

I am certainly not an expert at this {says the Queen of the Schedule}, but as my children have gotten older, I've grown to appreciate that free time more and more.

With the recent snowy and icy state around here, they haven't gotten to play outside much, so I thought I'd show you an activity that would be great for free time, a day stuck inside or a science lesson {if you're into learning and teaching and all}.

Yesterday we made rockets launch in our living room. With just a few things I gathered from around our kitchen and craft bins, we had a blast shook up our afternoon.

You will need:
* Yarn
* Balloon
* Straw
* Scotch tape

I attached the yarn to a door post with tape {unfinished paint from unfinished kitchen remodel is not required}. Before you attach the other end of the string, be sure to thread the straw in there to stay over the string. Did that make sense? Just look at the pictures below if it didn't.
Redneck launch pad
Then I tied the other end of the string to a nail across the room {nail was already in there}. We had 2 strings {as seen above} and one only went to the mantle; it was a testing site, of course.
connector 2
Next, blow up your balloon and hold it shut with one hand while you tape it to the straw with the other hand. Pray that you don't need to answer the phone or something at this time.
5, 4, 10, 1
Have the kids count down and let her go!
And we're off!
Plan on being there for at least 30 minutes while children come up to you and beg you to do it again.
You will most likely have to replace the tape once every couple of launches and this is what it will look like. Awesome and beautful, right?
Well, at least it looks kind of science-ish, doncha think?
final straw
We did several different experiments with our balloon launches {2 at a time, 2 on the same string, backwards, etc} and if you are a geek-a-zoid like me, you might make your 4 year old come up with a hypothesis for each one. Or try to explain thrust or a Newtonian Law or 2... but I would never do that.
Not me.

Either way, it was a ton of fun for a freezing afternoon and even though it might not qualify as "free time", sometimes my kids need something to spark their imaginations. They left and went upstairs to play rockets, Buzz Lightyear and counted down for hours, so I think it was a success!

Now I'm off to think of something to impress my kids with this afternoon.
What do you think about letting them have some "free time" folding laundry?
Or teaching them how to dust with socks on their hands?

Sounds like a winning combination to me... or else a children's prison camp.
Maybe it will be rockets again!


Carrie said...

Please tell me you had something to blow up those balloons each time. I would be hyperventilating if I did this! Great idea!

Diana said...

I always wanted to be around when they were testing something. But, alas, never while I was there :(

Rachel @ CrazyTown said...

Too cute and looks like a lot of fun. I could totally see kids asking to "do id again" over and over again to infinity. I'll have remember this to do with my kiddos soon.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm....I'm just impressed that you had straws laying around the house. We never have straws.

Scott & Liz said...

Oh, I so enjoyed the munitions crew practicing blowing things up in the snow, 'cause it snows in Afghanistan.

Did you write that article!!! Great!!!! But I haven't read it. Yet. I'd hidden in my bedroom, locked the door, and curled up protectively around a new box of Cheez-Its (Publix-BOGO) to read the current edition that was sent home in K's school bag. I'd JUST turned to that page & was starting to process the title & picture, when K started pounding on the door in dire need of more play-doh.

Yeah, that unscheduled time does seem to include a small chunk of mom's schedule sometimes. Le sigh.

Must go read now while house asleep. (Where did I hide those Cheez-Its???)

Jenn McPherson said...

You need your own morning show...I'd watch!

The Incredible Shrinking Woman said...

I have to tell you, Hillary, yesterday when you posted the link to your article was exactly the moment I was explaining to our 10 year old that NO, I will not allow you to be on the Scholastic Bowl- for the 30th time I might add. She was pitching a HUGE FIT (which is a rarity for her as she's the UnCharlie one of the bunch! lol) and was telling me that she desperately needed to stay after school for practices. Matt and I had already determined that if our kids have a busier schedule than us, they are too busy! Your magazine gave me documentation. So thanks for that!

Dawn said...

oh my kids would love this! lauradid rocket club in middle school and she still talks about it! and got a rocket for christmas! i think she'd love to live near you and feel them rattle the air!

Elizabeth said...

Great article, Hillary. It had official written all over it. Congrats! I love, love, love when my four little ones are just puttering around the house doing who knows what. I especially love it when they are puttering around NOT SCREAMING "MINE!". But I'm not picky.:)

Holly said...

Just stumbled across your blog while "blog hopping" and I'm oh-so-glad I did! You've made me laugh, out loud I might add, several times. I'm a Momma of five, ages six and under, four of them boys, so I can totally relate and appreciate everything! This rocket idea rocks my face off!
:-) We've got cold weather mixed with RSV so anything to keep us occupied indoors is a plus. Thanks for sharing!

Jenifer said...

Scott is going to LOVE this! Take off from the Lee living room scheduled for 10am tomorrow! I'll keep you posted.

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