Advice for building/launching rockets with a girl scout troop?

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afadeev

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Launch?

Is one launchpad+controller enough for a group of nine? I've seen photos of scouting launch events that had 4 or more launch rods set up, but I think they were always for larger groups. I do have a second launchpad, but not a second controller — though I've got most of the parts on hand to build one.
I found a link to the last fall's Cub Scouts launch event.
That day we had launched 37 rockets at least once on B6-4's, using two launch pads.
Anyone who wanted to launch again was encouraged to do so. Many flew again on C6's, C5's, and Q-Jet D16's, at the risk of not getting the rockets back. About a dozen kids wanted "to go higher".

Some gave their rockets to friends and siblings, who "flew" them as their own.
Two kids showed up having either damaged or forgotten their rockets. I gave them mine to fly (bring spares!), and they were happy.

Video was shot from a drone and edited by one of the Scouts. It may give you ideas about event-day logistics:


Feel free to PM me for more info.

a
 
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smstachwick

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Years ago I led a group build of about 50 Baby Berthas with the Boy Scouts. The Generic seems to be a bit easier in terms of assembly though

Estes does manufacture a 1/2A6-2 in 18mm size and it is recommended for that model, so an adapter to fly in the 1/2A impulse class won't be necessary. It won't go very high though, Rocksim indicates only ~65 ft. Good for a first launch to show how everything works, but it won't wow anybody by any means.
 

Grant_Edwards

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Estes does manufacture a 1/2A6-2 in 18mm size and it is recommended for that model, so an adapter to fly in the 1/2A impulse class won't be necessary.
It is noticably cheaper to fly T motors with adapters, and I don't really have any other use for 18mm 1/2A engines.
It won't go very high though, Rocksim indicates only ~65 ft. Good for a first launch to show how everything works, but it won't wow anybody by any means.
I just ran some sims in OpenRocket, and the best motor candidates look like

MotorVelocity off
rod (mph)
Apogee (ft)Velocity at
Deploy (mph)
1/2A3T-233753.4
1/2A6-235605.3
A10T-3492075.4
A8-3381923.3
B6-4414351.9

I may do a demo or two with a 1/2A3T motor (I've got other rockets that can use them), then switch to A8-3 for most of the remaining launches. I may shoot "my" copy of the E2X with a B6-4 just so they can see the difference, but I'd hate to loose one of the girls' rockets. I'll have enough B6-4s on hand so everybody can have one if it's calm enough...
 

mjennings

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I ran a full Pack Cub Scout launch a few years ago using FlisKits Whatchamacallits. The jig tech fins go on super easy and straight. Had 20 ish kids with parents in and out of my garage over 3ish hours on build day. All white glue. Only a little bit of Xacto work needed to pop out the laser cut fins. Finishing was in your own. Lots of successful flights. Definitely recommend running 2 pads for more than 3 kids. Launching with a club is a good idea too.

For other demonstrations understand what requirements they are working towards. And the general STEMyness of the group of girls. 4th and 5th graders are smart but it's really easy to over/under do the age group. Knowing their interest level will help you judge just a build and fly event vs adding technical depth. But make the explanations fun. More demo than math class.
My niece was younger but I tried to demonstrate how hard the moon landing was by having a girl spin (earth), have a second girl run in circles around the first(moon) and have the earth throw a tennis ball and hit the moon. I thought for sure it take them several tries. First try she hit her. But I rolled with it. And they had a good time.
 

TigerHawk

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ASP Rocketry has really nice educational/bulk pack model rocket kits, etc.
 

TigerHawk

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The Rocketry Works Toobish Rocket Kit would be a good one to consider.
 

TigerHawk

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Don’t forget about the bulk rocket packs, etc. at Apogee.
 

dhbarr

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I buddy of mine likes to do winter launches out on on frozen lakes. I use LiPo batteries in my launch controller, so I'd need to keep it from getting too cold somehow (or wire up some way to use different batteries).
Motors and batteries both stay under your coat until it's go-time.
 

Grant_Edwards

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Motors and batteries both stay under your coat until it's go-time.
Unfortunately, swapping batteries in/out of the launch controller isn't trivial because the back of the case is screwed on. It would have been wise to provide for simpler access to the battery. :/
 

Rocketless

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Contact MASA-rocketry.org for possible help near Minneapolis, they launch at a field near Otsego and I know have helped with other scout launches
 

Zman1961

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Grant, I live in the Twin Cities and have done quite a few build/launch days with Cub Scouts both at local fields and with Tripoli. A scouter friend and I developed a training curriculum for use at University of Scouting events (to train adult leaders). It sounds like you have good plans, PM me if you want to discuss this more.
 

Richard Dierking

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I've helped kids build thousands of model rockets at workshops including the GSA. If time is short the E2X (Alpha III or Generic) are probably the best choice because they have fin cans. If you have more than a hour and I think you mentioned 2 hours, you have plenty of time to build kits with glue-on fins. I did a workshop for Girl Scouts of Los Angeles with groups in two hour sessions and we used the Estes Patriot. Best way to time what it takes is to build one or two yourself, and see how long it takes to complete various steps. If you use wood glue (the yellow stuff) the fins actually dry pretty quickly. You will have to demonstrate to use the minimum amount of glue. Kids usually start by using too much glue and this prolongs drying and can turn a motor mount into a mess.

A lot has already been said, so trying to keep the rest short.
You need small paper plates, small stir sticks (they will usually give these to you at Star Bucks), some butcher paper (ask at the store and they will probably give you a part roll), rolls of paper towels, wood glue, scissors, small rulers, short (6") pieces of 1/2" aluminum angle for alignment lines on the airframe for the launch lug, and blue masking tape. They can use the molding on a door frame for marking the line on the launch lug but it's better for them to focus and sit at the table. You should be the only one with the hobby knife and this means you will need to move around quickly. (I've done groups of 60 kids.). Drink at least two cups of coffee before the meeting.

For glue-on fins, create a desk holder template with a cut out "V" to hold the rocket and use card stock paper. They will each need two stands to hold their rocket. Have the kids make their stands for glueing on the fins. This is good to start with because they get warmed up following directions with folding the paper, cutting the "V", and taping the base .

Have spare parts and even an built motor holder if someone messes their's up.

Have the kids work in pairs and they will help each other with following the directions.

Always discuss launch safety at the end of the meeting and you can also demonstrate how to pack the parachute. But, don't have them do this! The glue inside is still not completely dry and the parachute/shock cord will get glued inside.

Lastly, please don't ask them to use the included stickers. Instead have them design their rocket themselves, with spray paint (tell them to ask their parents first), or what ever they want to personalize the rocket without affecting it's aerodynamics too much.

Hope this helps.
 

Scott_650

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Lastly, please don't ask them to use the included stickers. Instead have them design their rocket themselves, with spray paint (tell them to ask their parents first), or what ever they want to personalize the rocket without affecting it's aerodynamics too much.
Just to add to Richard’s suggestion - what I did with the kits we used was I painted all the nose cones ahead of the build then the kids decorated the rest of their rocket with watercolor markers - worked out great and no worries about using spray paint. Also, as part of the signup for the workshop we asked the participants to bring “art shirts” or wear old clothes and I brought a bunch of old adult sized t-shirts just in case - which we ended up needing since evidently some parents thought their kids should overdress to build rockets 😆
 

K'Tesh

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While it's unlikely to be a problem, I'd recommend reading this post:

 

Ez2cDave

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I've volunteered to organize and supervise a model rocket group build and subsequent launch with my niece's girl scout troop. This will be sometime next spring, so I've got a few months to prepare. It's a "junior" troop (grades 4-5), and IIRC there are nine girls in the troop. I'd appreciate any words of wisdom others might have to offer after having done something similar.

What Else?

What have I forgotten to ask about that I'm going to wish I had?
Don't "dumb it down" . . . Talk "Rocketry" . . . Do not "talk down" to them, but "elevate them" to a higher level !

Dave F.
 

Back_at_it

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I have a little experience with this. About 10 yrs. ago I opened my mouth and got myself into doing a rock build and fly with my then GF's, son's scout troop. There were about 16 of them and they ranged from about 7 to 11ish yrs. old. We made it clear that this was a parent and child activity. No kid was doing this without their parent with them. I wasn't going to be responsible for some kid stabbing himself.

After looking at my options I settled on the Alpha III and the Sky Writer kits. We ended up with 12 of each and let the kids pick which one they wanted. I also bought a Maxi Alpha III to build for a Demo flight. I recommend that you stick to ONE DAMN ROCKET.....!

The first thing I did was get the parents together and held a little work shop with them. Broke the parents into two groups and gave each group a rocket. One group got the Sky Writer while the other got the Alpha III. While running this little work shop a couple of things were obvious, even adults can't follow simple directions. Over the course of about 2 hrs. we managed to get two rockets built. The hardest part was getting the Shock Cord installed and doing the launch lug. Everything else went pretty smoothly.

The take away from that little trial run was this, Preinstall in the launch lug and shock cord. Build the parachutes and loop them through fishing clasp so all they kids need to do it clip them on. Rewrite the instructions in kid friendly steps.

I went home and installed 24 launch lugs, built and installed 24 shock cords (replaced the rubber with elastic) and typed up some instructions that eliminated the steps I had already performed and repackaged everything up.

Come build day we got there early and setup the work stations. There were two kids to a table. Each table got one hobby knife, one small bottle of Elmer's all purpose glue, one tube of orange model glue, 2 small pieces sand paper and some paper towels. We let the kids come up and pick their rockets. Interestingly the Alpha was the first to go. All of the remaining 10 were gone and only 6 Sky Writers were taken.

I then stood in the front of the room and walked through the assembly of both rockets one step at a time. We did the Alpha motor mount, then the Sky Writer, Inserted the Alpha Fin unit then the Sky Writer etc. etc. until both were built. We managed to get them done in a little more than 2 hrs. No major issues and no one had to go to the hospital :) Again....stick to ONE DAMN ROCKET.....!

The following week we spent the first 30 mins letting the kids decorate the rockets, When they were done they brought the rockets up to the the table where we packed the wadding and chute. I then inserted the motor and ignitor and set them aside for the launch. The rockets stayed with me once the motors were installed.

Since the yard was pretty small I bought a bunch of 1/2A6-2 motors and and some C11-3's for the Maxi. We elevated the launch pad so that the rod was well above the kids eye line. This kept us from worrying about someone putting an eye out and made it easier to teach them how to hook up the leads.

One at a time in completely random order we selected the rocket and called the kid to the launch pad. They slide the rocket on the rod, hooked up the leads and walked back to the controller. I held the controller and allowed them to insert the key, count down and push the button. Looking back, I should have mounted the controller to a table or something so that it couldn't move.

We ran well past our cutoff time but we got everyone in the air including the maxi Alpha. Everyone flew and we only had one come apart due to a lack of glue on the fin can. No one lost a rocket but one did land in a tall bush but we go it back. I don't think we were getting them up much past 150ft.
 
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BABAR

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If you use glue on fins you personally or an assistant can pre-apply “cheaters.” These are 1/16 x1/16 balsa strips the length of the fin base or slightly shorter.

use a fin marking guide to mark straight lines. You Do Have to decide in advance the fin number, usually three or four. This can be placed with white or yellow glue, placed just clockwise (or if your and Aussie or Kiwi, counterclockwise…..reality is it doesn’t matter as long as you use the same direction for each individual rocket.) because they are very light, they go in easy and tend to stay in place, you can use a couple of rubber bands to hold them if the start to warp. You can do this one or more nights before.

the cheaters do two things.

1. They just about guaranteed perfect fin alignment. The fin MAY still sag a bit clockwise or counterclockwise (it may no be perpendicular to the body tube) but the longitudinal alignment which is what matters will be right and the rocket should fly straight.

2. It provides more surface are for the fin to attach. Particularly if you use the double glue joint method (apply a sparing amount of glue to the root of the fin, out the fin in place to smear abut on the tube/cheater, REMOVE THE FIN, wait a few minutes (you can actually repeat this step with the other two or three fins WHILE you are waiting), the fin will “tack” faster and due to the larger surface area the bond is stronger.

have fun and post pics!
 
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Grant_Edwards

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[...]After looking at my options I settled on the Alpha III and the Sky Writer kits.[...] I recommend that you stick to ONE DAMN ROCKET.....!
I'll definitely stick to one rocket. :) The Estes E2X is still the lead candidate.
The first thing I did was get the parents together and held a little work shop with them.
I'm going to train at least one adult to help (hopefully two or three), and they will have been through the build process once already. If I can find a couple other adults to help, that would leave us with about a 4:1 ratio, which I think we can manage. Most of the kids will be there w/o parent. Towards that end, I'm going to pre-cut the slit for the engine clip, so there will be no X-Acto knives involved at all.
Over the course of about 2 hrs. we managed to get two rockets built. The hardest part was getting the Shock Cord installed and doing the launch lug.
After thinking more and more about the old Estes tri-fold shock cord mounts, I'm leaning more towards hacking the kits to use kevlar string attached to the engine mount — if I can figure out an easy way to do it (it's hard to image anything that would make as much mess and have as many failure modes as the trifold method). If I do that, it also eliminates the need for scissors.

For the launch lugs, I'm going to have a 12" piece of 1/8" steel rod for each builder. The plan is to put the rod through the lug, apply glue to the body tube, hold the rod/lug against the body tube, and have somebody else masking tape the lug and rod ends to the tube — set aside while the glue sets. It's pretty easy to get it straight enough when taping a 12" rod to a 12" tube. Afterwards, I'll give them each a block of wood with a 1/8" hole in it. The rod goes into that block, and they've got a display stand (the E2X won't stand on its tail by itself).

[...] Build the parachutes and loop them through fishing clasp so all they kids need to do it clip them on.
If I choose the E2X, Estes parachutes come pre-assembled, and I'm planning on pre-attaching snap swivels.

[...] Rewrite the instructions in kid friendly steps.
Yea, it's becoming more and more obvious that's going to be required — especially if I go with the kevlar mod. The Estes instructions are a bit too cluttered/busy, and to keep things moving you need to skip back and forth between different sections.

I'm also going to write up some instructions for kids who want to take their rocket home and paint it: mostly where on the rocket not to get paint. I'm sure that's going to be pretty futile, but you've got to try...
 

Grant_Edwards

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I'll definitely stick to one rocket. :) The Estes E2X is still the lead candidate.
Well, that decision is made. I stumbled across Estes Generic E2X bulk 12-packs on Amazon for $41 with free prime shipping. I ordered two of them, and they'll be here in two days. They're supposedly "open-box, like-new" which is perfectly fine since I'm going to bash them a bit and re-kit. Estes shows the list price as $115, and the LHS has them for $70, so $41 is a real bargain even if a couple of the kits are damaged or missing parts.
 

Grant_Edwards

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I stumbled across Estes Generic E2X bulk 12-packs on Amazon for $41 with free prime shipping. I ordered two of them, and they'll be here in two days.
They arrived today, and the boxes look like new. But they're not E2X bulk packs, they're Wizards. That's not a bad little rocket, but I don't want to glue on balsa fins — and $41 for a 12-pack of Wizards isn't that much of a bargain (they're normally about $47-$48).

The LHS had E2X bulk packs a few days ago (for only a couple dollars more than ACSupply), but they're out of stock now. I guess it's time to order them from ACSupply. As long as I'm getting free shipping, I need to figure out what else I should put on that order...
 

afadeev

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Return a mis-represented Amazon item, and start again?
 

Grant_Edwards

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Yep, yesterday I ordered a two 12-packs of E2X kits from ACSupply along with bulk packs of A8-3 and B6-4 engines/wadding and miscellaneous other parts (once you hit the $100 free shipping point, it's hard not to add all sorts of small items to an order). Today I dropped off the Wizard bulk packs at UPS. When I checked the Amazon site, the listing for the "used/like-new" E2X bulk packs was gone. New ones were still available for $79 with free shipping ($10 more than ACSupply).
 
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