If You Want to Catch Someone’s Attention - Fire Off a Rocket! You can sleep through a lecture, a meeting or a concert, but no one sleeps through a Fourth of July celebration.  Rockets are just too cool.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could capture some of that excitement for your classroom?  Well, you can.

Bottle rockets are illegal due to their dangerous nature - short fuses, secondary explosions and no guidance system.  Model rockets however are legal and safe.  They use carefully formulated propellant, an electrical ignition from a fifteen foot (five meter) distance and they have a recovery system.  The recovery system is usually a brightly colored parachute or streamer that adds to the excitement of the launch - especially on a windy day.
In fact, your students can still build the same model that has been a first choice for model makers for over thirty years.  Accepted as the gold standard of model rocketry, the Alpha continues to be one of the most popular model rockets worldwide. The modern Alpha sports a plastic nose cone and parachute but still maintains the balsa wood fins that need to be sanded to shape and glued into position.  Snappy, red and blue, peel and stick decals add the final touch.  Very impressive, especially if you have given the rocket a coat of white paint.
The rocket kits come with step by step instructions.  However, as in all lessons, it is best if you have gone through them thoroughly before trying to do it with your students.  I offer teacher workshops annually at the FAST conference.  This gives teachers a chance to build and launch their own rocket before attempting it with students.

Once the rockets are built and the glue is dry, it is time to launch.  Launch day is always exciting.  Most students have never launched a rocket.  Those that have are more than willing to do it again.  Engines that propel the rockets come in a variety of strengths. I suggest using the lowest power recommended by the manufacturer.  This greatly increases your chances of recovering the rocket for another flight.
So, put fresh batteries in the launch controller, pack the parachute and head out to your school’s sports field.  
By the way, if anyone asks, this IS rocket science!
The Alpha is so popular with educators that the manufacturer, Estes , made it available in bulk packs.  Twelve individually bagged rocket kits at a discounted price.  Two other models are also available in bulk.  The Alpha III has the same dimensions as the Alpha but comes pre-painted and has a plastic fin assembly.  This makes it much easier to build.  It is a stunning rocket in glossy black and brilliant orange.   At 15 Inches (38.1 Centimeters) Generic E2-X is the tallest of the three choices.  It is as easy to build as the Alpha III but is finished in plain white.  It too comes with a set of colorful peel and stick decals but I prefer to have my students decorate this one themselves.  The E2-X , as I prefer to call it, takes very well to markers or paints.  Best of all, this one can be finished with the decoupage technique.  With a simple paste of white glue and water any glossy magazine picture can become rocket decor.
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