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  • Gloria Hoffner

Easter Egg Rocket

Science for Seniors FREE Tuesday activity - Easter Egg Rockets. With less than a week until Easter, and lots of plastic eggs available before and after the holiday, here is a fun and inexpensive way to learn about rockets. According to NASA, the first rockets we know about were used in China in the 1200s. These solid rockets were used for fireworks. Armies also used them in wars. In the next 700 years, people made bigger and better solid rockets. Many of these were used for wars too. Robert Goddard, the father of space rockets, was told in a New York Times editorial that he lacked, “the basic physics ladled out daily in our high schools”. Goddard achieved the first successful flight with a liquid-propellant rocket on March 16, 1926. Fueled by liquid oxygen and gasoline, the rocket flew for only two and a half seconds and became the forerunner of a whole new era in rocket flight. In July 1969, the United States launched the first men to land on the moon using a Saturn V rocket. Like most engines, rockets burn fuel. Most rocket engines turn the fuel into hot gas. The engine pushes the gas out its back. The gas makes the rocket move forward. A rocket is different from a jet engine. A jet engine needs air to work. A rocket engine doesn't need air. It carries with it everything it needs. A rocket engine works in space, where there is no air. Experiment: Demonstrate how a rocket is propelled. Materials: Plastic Easter eggs, water, Alka-Selzer tablet, tape and toilet paper roll. Process: Place the narrow top half of the plastic egg in one end of the toilet paper roll and secure with tape. In the larger bottom of the egg place 1/2 an Alka-Selzer tablet and a tablespoon of water. Quickly, (speed matters) place the bottom portion of the filled egg in the bottom of the toilet paper roll and release. Result: Why did the combination of water and Alka-Seltzer push the rocket upward? Alka-Selzer contains citric acid and sodium bicarbonate. When the water dissolves the tablet these two ingredients are able to react and form carbon dioxide gas which fills the empty plastic egg within the toilet paper tube. That pressure from the gas blasts the rocket off.

If this works on Earth with gravity, how does the same principal work in space?

Rockets work by a the third law of motion proven by English scientist Sir Isaac Newton. This law says for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The rocket pushes on its exhaust. The exhaust pushes the rocket, too. The rocket pushes the exhaust backward. The exhaust makes the rocket move forward.

Second experiment: Third law of motion demonstrated on Earth.

Materials: Bowling ball, skateboard and person to stand on the skateboard.

Process: Person stands on a skateboard and throws the bowling ball as far as they can.

Result: The ball will go forward. The person on the skateboard will move backward. This happens because the person is heavier than the ball, thus

the bowling ball will move farther.

Fun Fact: Alan Shepard was the first American in space. He flew on the U.S. Army's Redstone rocket. John Glenn was the first American in orbit. He flew on an Atlas rocket. NASA's Gemini missions used the Titan II rocket. The first rockets NASA built to launch astronauts were the Saturn I, the Saturn IB and the Saturn V. These rockets were used for the Apollo missions. The Apollo missions sent men to the moon. A Saturn V also launched the Skylab space station. The space shuttle uses rocket engines.

*** Coming next week - what to do with those leftover Peeps - Peeps Physics!

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