Science doesn't always go according to plan

Julian Jagush, a mobile innovations educator with the Perot Museum, launches a model rocket and watches as it heads toward the ground during a rocket-making workshop Saturday at South Branch Library.

A fiery rocket — one made out of cardboard — launched and crashed Saturday afternoon outside Denton’s South Branch Library.

The library hosted a model rocket-building workshop for kids ages 10-17 with the help of staffers from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.

The workshop was presented by the Perot’s Tech Truck program, part of the museum’s community outreach. The program brings hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects to kids and their communities.

“I designed this workshop to match our summer reading theme of outer space, ‘A Universe of Stories,’” said Sarah Ward, the teen services librarian at South Branch. “I asked the Perot Museum if they could teach [kids how to make] rockets and they said yes.”

Julian Jagush and Kenzie Shepherd with the Perot Museum showed 13 preteens and teens how to make rockets with paper towel rolls, cardboard, straws and glue.

Working on rockets

Kids start building and designing their model rockets during a workshop Saturday at Denton’s South Branch Library. Participants built and designed their model rockets from scratch. Some of the elements they incorporated were a parachute, rocket fins and a compartment for a Estes rocket engine to help launch it in the air.

Although the rockets were made out of the same materials, some kids put their own stamp on the project by adding cardboard flames, names and color to their rockets.

While the kids talked excitedly with each other about what else to add on, there were times when the room was silent as they worked and the only sound was scissors cutting through cardboard.

Stephanie Sorensen of Denton said she home-schools her son, so programs like this help out in their teaching. She said they go to the Denton Public Library’s programs extensively.

Jordan Rivera came from Lake Dallas with her son for his Boy Scouts of America troop.

“He’s working on it for a merit badge on space exploration,” Rivera said.

Brothers building rockets

Brothers Danny Roberts, 14, left, and Tyler Roberts, 12, work on their model rockets during a free workshop Saturday at South Branch Library.

As they finished, the kids were getting more excited to launch their rockets outside. Brothers Danny and Tyler Roberts discussed how high they hoped their rockets would go.

“100 feet,” said Danny, 14.

“50 feet,” Tyler, 12, said. “The engines aren’t very big.”

Eyes to the sky

Kids and parents watch a model rocket launch into the sky Saturday outside Denton’s South Branch Library during a free workshop presented by the Perot Museum’s Tech Truck.

The engines from Estes Rockets are about the size of about a roll of quarters. The chemicals inside that react to propel the rockets are potassium nitrate and sulfur.

Jagush warned the kids that the sulfur would give the rockets a rotten egg smell once they crash-landed.

The first rocket had a delayed launch. It shot up a few feet, turned, then crashed. It let out one last puff of gas a second after it landed.

The second shot up about 15 feet, making the kids and parents gasp, then turned upside-down and deployed its parachute successfully.

The last rocket’s engine shot out from the back once it landed.

Although some rockets didn’t launch was high as others or deploy their parachutes, Jagush said the program still went as planned in that it showed the kids a lesson in mistakes — something he told the group early on in the program.

Jagush said it’s because science doesn’t always go according to plan.

“We’re not seeking perfection,” he said. “If it’s not perfect, it’s totally fine.”

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached via Twitter at @zairalperez.

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