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TOPIC: Ideas for rocketry workshops for kids

Ideas for rocketry workshops for kids 8 years 6 months ago #867

My 14-yr old son and I are new members of ROCI, and we just completed the judging for 4-H rocketry before the fair here in Delaware County. The competition here is not heavy... only a handful of kids are doing rockets. Most of the participants have not included the kinds of build features that most experienced rocket builders look for, such as rounding the leading and trailing edge of fins, sealing and filling fins and balsa nose cones, and filling the lines on the body tube. One even used plastic cement to glue the rocket to the display base, which makes it REALLY hard to launch the rocket.

In order to help improve the quality and number of rockets entered, my son and I have offered to lead some workshops next spring for Delaware County 4-H'ers, and we've talked about several ideas about how to plan this. We are also hoping to bring some of them to the ROCI launches, including Sept. when we can attend next!

If any of you have suggestions for activities for a series of workshops, please share them. We're open to more ideas. I am also wondering if anyone knows a business in East Central Indiana that might be willing to sponsor the workshops by purchasing an Education Pack of Estes kits (basic Level 1, but not E2X) as a practice rocket for participants.

By they way, my son's rocket was selected for the state fair, and he's psyched about launching it at the Sept. launch at the AMA site in Muncie!! It's his own design, near-minimum diameter with an Aerotech D21, and very nicely built!

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Re:Ideas for rocketry workshops for kids 8 years 6 months ago #869

  • Dennis
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I am very new to the forum and only recently got into model rocketry with my daughters (haven't been in the hobby since junior high many, many moons ago), so I don't have any specific ideas for programs. However, since we started, I have been doing a fair amount of research on model rocketry for various reasons and I have noticed that both Estes and the NAR have education programs. The Estes website has several free educational documents available free to download. I'd start at

The NAR also has free educator and youth group leader resources on their website

I saw educational materials and lesson plans for rocketry and model rocketry on the NASA website, but I can't seem to find that page now.

My wife is a co-leader of my oldest daughter's Girl Scout troop and mentioned that she might enlist me to do a model rocket program with them. I don't know if she's serious or not, and I have a lot of studying to do if she is, but let me know if you come up with something and how it goes.
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Re:Ideas for rocketry workshops for kids 8 years 5 months ago #877

  • Mark Newton
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I've been co-leader of Aerospace in Boone Co. for about 13 years now. Have done a number of tings with the kids--some things worked, some didn't. We routinely run building workshops every spring for our kids. It takes about 3 hours of workshop time to build a balsa fin/balsa cone kit, with rounded fins and a single cost of sanding sealer applied. We offer the workshop twice...once on a Saturday--3 hours at once, then two 1.5 hour sessions on a weeknight, usually one week apart. Give parents two chances to build a kit. After tat, we have a paint and finish workshop for 2 hours on Sat afternoon, where we enumerate the joys of sandable primer and also discuss some good paints for finish and clear coating. We then have a launch in May. Leaders pay for the primer each year out of our pockets. We charge about $10 for the rocket kit, which we usually buy from Balsa Machining in bulk.

Takes 2-3 years of the workshop to build enough expertise among the kids that you routinely get good quality kits at the fair. We recommend that our kids take the beginning skills workshop at least two years in a row. Three is better. We do rotate among 2-3 kits for some variety. We also run an advanced workshop each year that hits a topic or two, like flight simulation with software, or clustering, or multistaging, or gliders, etc. Often have an advanced kit that we pre-order and sell at cost to the kids as well. We always buy in bulk to cut costs, and sometimes create our own kit, esp. if we have a unique kit design.

We have 60-70 students each year, and about 70% complete the project and exhibit at the fair. Be glad to talk with you about it further--send an email to discuss. Email is user id (ep29030) at

Mark Newton
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Re:Ideas for rocketry workshops for kids 8 years 5 months ago #905


Thanks for the info! Your plan sounds pretty similar to what I have in mind, but I'll wait and see if I get more interest before I order a bulk pack just yet. This year there were only 7 rockets entered (for all age groups) at our fair, including my son's, and he'd have entered 2-3 if he were allowed.

Hopefully I can help get the rocketry group energized and organized a bit more. If I do, I will strongly promote the idea of having a launch day at an ROCI event to get the whole group excited about flying their models.

Thanks again for the input!

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