Friday, January 26, 2007

Seventh Meeting: Music, Dry Ice, and Rockets

Today we had our seventh BSEC meeting of the year. At the start, Ms. Nickerson had set up some music-related booths for us, including a rather nifty lollipop thingy. Next we somehow acquired some dry ice--I'm still not sure how--and blew up another bottle. Kind of. It only blew up once Ms. Nickerson tried to defuse it, naturally. The next bottle was a total dud.

By that time we had pulled out the rocketry stuff and were plotting two launches. The first would finally make use of Vivek's X-Wing that had been sitting in the closet for 1 1/2 years; the second would make use of, umm, some cardboard and tape and all the rocket engines we could find. (That only means four, alas.)

The X-Wing performed beautifully, right up until, uh, the point at which it nose-dived into the ground. Parachute? Yeah, we had a parachute. Problem is, it deployed about a yard above the ground... and it had a hole. Or two. Not much of a help.

Of course, we'd have been crazy to bother with a parachute on our other project: a cardboard tube with two cardboard wings held together with a little masking tape. (Far more sophisticated than our "rocket javelin" from last time, you see.) The nose-cone, though, was decidedly less sophisticated. At first we had a weight in there, to make it less tail-heavy, but at the last moment ripped it out. (That had grave consequences later on.)

So on that launch the rocket went up like it was supposed to, but then twirled and twisted and dove straight at the crowd of observers. Several people dove to the ground; a couple actually tripped over each other. I'm amazed nobody got burnt. Luckily, the body tube soon detached and left the crowd alone, instead landing right next to the launch pad. A few seconds passed, and then the next stage activated. Only, our pitiful replacement for the weighted nose cone -- aka a bit of tape -- didn't hold. The remaining rockets shot out the front of the tube and streaked into the air... and then landed in the pool.

Interesting experience. Video embedded below:

Video: BSEC 06-07 - Seventh Meeting in Under 5 Minutes

No comments: