Houston, we have a problem!
Or should we say there was a mechanical issue preventing the launch of Cole Seil’s rocket.
“Don’t worry about it, buddy,” Nathan Primrose said, reconnecting the PVC piping which was being used as a launcher for Cole’s DIY cardboard spaceship. “This is an easy fix. Now, stomp on the pop bottle and watch your rocket fly.”
Wait, cardboard spacecraft, PVC launchpads and propulsion by plastic pop bottle? Guess we’re not talking about NASA here, right?
Actually, Cole, 9, was one of the participants at a special, one-day “Astro Camp,” sponsored by Woodbury County’s Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach at its 1221 Pierce St. location.
Primrose, an Iowa State University student, was helping wannabe astronauts, grades 3-5, build moon rovers, prepare space-age ice cream and learn the science behind stomp rocket technology.
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Simply put, stomp rocket technology consists of stomping on a plastic bottle that is attached to one end of the PVC. This causes the air inside the bottle to be compressed.
The compressed air escapes down the pipe and into the body of Cole’s rocket which is located on the other end of the PVC. The rocket effectively closes off the pipe’s air supply, causing the rocket to fly off the launcher and into outer space.
Well, outer space might be an overstatement. Cole’s spacecraft crash landed on the other side of a parking lot.
“This is so cool,” he said. “My rocket landed on the roof of somebody’s car.”
Youth outreach coordinator Christine Craig-Beyerink couldn’t help but smile at the enthusiasm of the Astro Campers.
“The kids are expanding their horizons while having a great time doing it,” she said.
Each summer, ISU Extension and Outreach offers a wide selection of one to two-day camps. Utilizing research-based curriculum delivered by experienced 4-H Youth Development and Extension staff, the educational camp give kids hands-on training in science, cooking and, even, earning certification to become a babysitter.
“Our camps allow kids to keep learning even when school isn’t in session,” Craig-Beyerink said.
However, don’t tell Emmett Rohlena that there is an educational component to stomp rocket technology. The 9-year-old simply enjoyed seeing his spaceship fly high in the sky.
“That was fun,” he said with a laugh. “I want to do it again.”
A few days earlier, Emmett’s 12-year-old sister Harper Rohlena was enrolled in a “Fashion on a Budget: Runway Style” summer camp.
Geared toward fourth-through eighth-graders, this camp challenges kids to buy an entire outfit for just $15.
“The campers needed to be creative with their designs, accessories and jewelry while being mindful of a tight budget,” Craig-Beyerink explained.
Having said that, $15 can go a long way while shopping at Sioux City’s Goodwill, Bargain Center and Gospel Mission Thrift Store.
In fact, Harper Rohlena had money left over after assembling her ensemble, which included a baggy top, cargo pants and belt, a bucket hat and pocketbook.
“I call my look ‘grandpa chic,'” she said, while twirling around on a runway during an impromptu fashion show.
Maggie Bauerley went with a haute couture look.
Walking the runway with a flowered dress, a fashionable bracelet and necklace combination as well as a pair of baby blue pumps, the 11-year-old struck a pose with a wardrobe that cost $15 on the nose.
“Maggie knows a lot about clothes and a lot about spending money,” mom Jennifer Bauerley said with a grin. “Those are two of her favorite things about her in the world.”
Perhaps, Maggie Bauerley can give some pointers to Craig-Beyerink, who admitted she knew more about stomp rockets than she did about fashion.
“The fun thing about our summer camps is that there is literally something for everybody,” Craig-Beyerink said. “The kids may not become astronauts or fashion designers but, hopefully, the camps will spark their interest to try something new and different.”