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Stomp Rocket

June 24th, 2010 by Joyce · 2 Comments

stomprocket4stomprocket2 stomprocketnextstomprocket1    The UPS man brought us something new today:  a stomp rocket.  There are some fun physics in the stomp rocket, plus they’re cheaper than the model rocket (no need to buy “fee-ul”).  I can also tell you that it does a pretty good job of wearing C&D out before bedtime.

We’re not done with the Alpha III, however.  Yesterday C&D were bummed because they realized they had forgotten to stick their dolly C&Ds on the rocket to go up just like the astronauts.  I imagined their little dolls strapped to the rocket with rubber bands or (David’s favorite) masking tape, flying high over the park.  Wheeeee!  C&D figured they can try it next time.  (Actually, one of the Estes rockets has a cargo bay built in . . . )  (And, no, I’m not letting Dolly Carmen and Dolly David get shot into the air taped onto a model rocket.  Too dangerous for everyone involved, especially the Dollies.)

The Alpha III creates a fun flame front and vapor trail that seems to say “Today, the park; tomorrow, the moon!”  The box shows a picture of a rocket with an orange flame shooting out the end.  I didn’t notice this at the store but at home David sure did, and asked about it.  I told him that the flame in the picture was just for “decorating” (marketing, in other words), because the rocket was just pretend.   I didn’t know what would come out . . . hot air?  Hummingbirds?  Oh, Mommy, Mommy.

But now, to the great beyond of sweet dreams and a good night’s sleep . . . it’s time for bed.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Dynamic Duo · Learn Something

Space cadets

June 22nd, 2010 by Joyce · 2 Comments

rocket8 From our dining table we can watch the sun rise and set, the moon wash the city in its blue light, track the planes on the way to Hobby Airport and watch the clouds drift and build like mounds of soap bubbles in the kitchen sink.  We look for satellites, count stars, and wonder if the moon has mountains.

But then . . .

I think it started with an airplane ride, and then a request from Carmen that she take a flight into space.  The airplane ride was cute and all, but a little tame, I guess.

Maybe this was how last week we began talking about shuttles and rockets, boosters and stages.  I showed C&D some shuttle liftoffs on the NASA’s mission pages and then some Thunderbirds and Blue Angels demos on YouTube.  We talked about rocket fuel and jets, g’s and gravity, space suits and the atmosphere, platforms and liftoffs.  We showed them how Rice has a former student, Shannon Walker, on the ISS now, and watched her crew travel on the Soyuz and enter the ISS.  Carmen asked if the Houston astronaut was still in space?  Yes, we told her, until Christmas.  But Carmen asked a few more times anyway, maybe for good measure.

David was all about the mechanics of the liftoff.  How did the rocket work?  What was all that fire about?  What was the platform for?

One morning he built a rocket out of Matt’s old Capsela toys, brought home after that first airplane trip to California.  With the rocket in one hand, David held his George Ranch beeswax candle out with the other, and asked me to light it.  Why? I asked.  “To make the rocket go up,” he answered.  Oh, right.  I imagined the smell of burnt plastic and the sight of Matt’s Capsela pieces melted and warped.  I smiled, mumbled something, and stashed the candles and matches out of reach.

More questions, more answers that only brought more questions.  Does the sky end?  What’s up with those suits?  Why is that astronaut being interviewed upside-down?

Monday, after noting this aeronautical obsession, I bought us a small model rocket.  Matt and C&D built the rocket last night, and this evening we launched it at Hermann Park.

We used an Estes Alpha III rocket (bought at G&G in the Village) and started with the B6-4 engines that came with the rocket.

When it was time to launch the rocket Carmen stood halfway down the hill, afraid of the noise it might make.  She had paid attention to all those NASA videos, after all.  David isn’t keen on loud noises, either, but he really, really wanted to send it up.  So he did, and again, and again.

rocket1rocket2rocket3rocket4  The first launch sent the rocket to the middle of the street in front of the garden center, the second sent the rocket to the street in front of the HMNS parking garage.rocket5The man at the hobby shop warned us that could happen, so he also sold us a set of smaller A engines.   Those, he said, would only send the rocket a couple hundred feet.rocket6

Good thing—everybody was tuckered from chasing the rocket all over.rocket7Then it was time to go home.  We were out of recovery wadding (special paper that prevents the parachute from melting), and, anyway,  it was almost bedtime.

David has already started reviewing plans for our next rocket adventure.  We need more recovery wadding, for instance.  And at the park he decided we need to bring about five baskets’ worth of rocket engines the next time we go out.  (“Feeyool,” he calls it.)  It didn’t take long for him to start thinking in greater, grander scales.  In the garage he watched Matt lift the rocket out of the trunk of the car.  “Next time,” he asked, “Can we make it go into space?”

The model rocket was cute and all, but . . .

→ 2 CommentsTags: Dynamic Duo · Learn Something

Battling Roundup resistance

June 21st, 2010 by Joyce

“Agricultural experts said the use of other chemicals is already creeping up. Monsanto and other companies are developing new seeds designed to resist older herbicides like dicamba and 2,4-D, a weed killer developed during World War II and an ingredient in Agent Orange, which was used to destroy jungle foliage during the Vietnam War and is blamed for health problems among veterans.

Penn State University weed scientist David Mortensen estimates that in three or four years, farmers’ use of dicamba and 2,4-D will increase by 55.1 million pounds a year because of resistance to Roundup. That would push both far up the list of herbicides heavily used by farmers.”

Roundup-resistant weeds pose environmental threat.”  Associated Press. (Houston Grows).  21 June 2010.

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Enough? Enough.

June 20th, 2010 by Joyce

eel•water•rock•man from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.

A multimedia presentation about the last man on the East Coast who still fishes for eels with an ancient stone weir, made in collaboration with Orion contributor and artist/author James Prosek.

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June 14th, 2010 by Joyce

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First position at the barre with Ms. Alix today during dance class.

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