Young patrons of the Jefferson County Library got a chance to develop the skills NASA engineers used to reach the Moon, with two rounds of “Yes, It’s Rocket Science” classes conducted by the …
Young patrons of the Jefferson County Library got a chance to develop the skills NASA engineers used to reach the Moon, with two rounds of “Yes, It’s Rocket Science” classes conducted by the Seattle Museum of Flight June 21.
Before the kids launched rounds of rockets built from soda bottles, construction paper and duct tape, educator Logan Wegmeyer offered some context to their efforts, not only by explaining elementary laws of physics to them, but also by summing up the development of spacecraft over the decades, from the multi-stage single-use rockets that reached the Moon, to the reusable space shuttles that were first launched in the 1980s.
Arthur Bednar, outreach coordinator for the Museum of Flight, acted as more of a silent partner, but when the kids marched outside to launch the rockets they’d constructed, powered by either Alka-Seltzer or water, Bednar was there to supervise the launches and ensure their safety.
“Beyond just covering the physics or the history, we want to pique their curiosity,” Bednar said. “By introducing them to these concepts in an entertaining way, our goal is to inspire them to learn more.”
Beyond the science lessons, which Bednar was impressed that the kids absorbed so well — “All their rockets flew straight into the air, and none of them exploded, which has happened” — he was heartened by the life lessons they picked up as well.
“All the kids worked really well together,” Bednar said. “You always want to foster good teamwork, and this was especially remarkable because they didn’t know each other. At least half these kids had never met before they started working together.”
Bednar encouraged families to foster their children’s curiosity by seeking out robotics and rocketry clubs, whether through their libraries, their schools or local organizations.
“Middle schools and high schools have good concentrations of these clubs,” Bednar said. “Not only do they learn skills, but they learn to express themselves.”
Mom Melania Crow appreciated the opportunity to keep her daughter September’s brain engaged, even during summer vacation.
“Science is what the world is based on, so of course it’s good for her to study it,” Melania said.
September had no idea that so many different substances could be used as propulsive agents, including water and air, and she suspects she might pursue rocketry farther.