second date idea: Build and launch a rocket

A second date is a second chance at impressing someone. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about how compatible you are with each other. For example, if you’ve had the same love for rockets since childhood this might be the perfect second date idea for you and your partner!

You’re probably thinking that they are expensive and complicated, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s what it will take to get started:

·          Tape measure – any kind will do; don’t spend extra money on special tape measures

·          Masking tape – its stickiness will keep your rocket together until it lands (hopefully) where you want it to go

·          An empty plastic bottle

·          Duct tape – to keep it all together!

·          A digital kitchen scale. The accuracy of this will determine the altitude you can reach with your rocket. It must be accurate down to at least 1/10th or one gram. You can find them on eBay for around $12. If you are in the states, there are many listings on Amazon .

Let’s get started! Grab your kitchen scale and empty water bottle, place them next to each other, zero out the scale by pressing the tare button, then put your empty container on top of it making sure that it is level and not tilted in any way (If your partner happens to also enjoy rockets we recommend checking out our article on an introductory rocket science course here ). Weigh the empty container. How much does it weigh? Is it more than 10 grams? If so, try using a smaller bottle – there is no point in building something that you can’t launch!

If your water bottle weighs less than 10 grams then congratulations! You are ready to build your second date idea.

It’s now time for you and your partner to bravely take on the world of rocket science! Your mission: To build a simple model rocket with the flight characteristics similar to those of a high powered hobby store rocket. In other words, if you were standing 5-10 feet away from where it landed, could you tell which way it came from or what direction it was going?

The first time we built a rocket, we had no idea what we were doing. We just used our imaginations to put together something that looked cool and would hopefully be capable of reaching some altitude. It was more art than science – trial and error at its finest! In retrospect, there is definitely a better way to do it. With the information available online, you can now plan ahead and build something that will fly straight up-and-down or horizontally on a level plane. You won’t have any second thoughts about whether or not your second date idea is going to work on the big day! There are two good sites where you can learn how to build a simple model rocket:  Rocketman Parachutes  and Apogee Components .

As you build your second date idea, there are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind. First, make sure that it is light enough for the launcher. If the rocket weighs too much, it won’t be able to reach enough altitude to clear the trees and buildings around where you plan on launching it from. It is always better to start with less weight and add more if needed, rather than try to take off weight at this point!

Second… well… second is obvious: SAFETY FIRST! Launch these little rockets outdoors in a wide open area away from anything breakable (including people). Also, launch toward an open field so if something goes wrong you can still get out of the way.

When the second date idea has been completed, it’s time to go outside and launch! Make sure that there are no people down range from where you’re going to launch, and have them stand back a safe distance away where they can watch your second date idea from a different angle from which you will be viewing it. You don’t want anything unexpected happening while your second date idea is in the air! Tie a piece of string around one of the fins on your second date idea so you can easily find it after it lands – this will save you a lot of searching later on! If possible, even take pictures or video – second dates are always better with multimedia documentation!

Once all safety concerns have been addressed, place the second date idea on the launcher and give it a gentle push. If you have done everything correctly so far, hopefully your second date idea will fly straight up and come back down under parachute (if not, go back to Chapter 1 and start over!). What second date ideas did you build? Did they fly well?

If your second date ideas flew well then congratulations – one of them might even be capable of reaching amateur rocketry altitudes! If that is the case, we recommend checking out Apogee Components for more detailed instructions on how to modify the second date idea into a full fledged rocket ready for high powered adventures!


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