Monday, July 07, 2014

Our First Day of Maker Camp 2014 - Building our Stomp Rocket

Showing off our stomp rockets prior to launch

Maker Camp started today and so my daughters (ages 6 and 10) participated with me as we built stomp rockets.  It was educational and a lot of fun on a hot summer day. Two thumbs up from both girls and we'll probably check out future projects in the summer.

Participating in Maker Camp is pretty easy.  It is online, free and something new every weekday for six weeks.  The theme for Week 1 is "Makers in Motion". Friday of each week they have a special virtual field trip and in week 1 it is an inside look at how they make Google Treks and they state in their teaser that they will demonstrate how to make photospheres of your own neighborhood - something that I have been doing a lot of this summer with my Nexus 7 tablet.

Building our stomp rockets for Maker Camp

The first thing I did today was check out the Maker Camp website.  I looked up the project for the day, which happened to be making a stomp rocket. (There is also a more advanced each project each day if you want to kick it up a notch!) I look looked up the supply list to see what we would need.  We are currently out of town on vacation so most of the stuff I probably could have rounded up at our house but since I didn't want to tear apart my inlaws' house looking for items I did go out a buy a couple at the hardware store.  Today's project basically required some type of rubber or plastic tubing, paper, tape and empty milk jug (a lot of people were also using empty two liter soda bottles).

Each day during Maker Camp they have a live Google Hangout to go with the project of the day.  Today since the topic was rockets they had a live chat with Buzz Aldrin.  We didn't see it live but did watch it YouTube about an hour after it was live.  We watched it while we ate lunch. It was great because we were able to tell the girls a little bit about how the United States put men on the moon.

After we watched the hangout we looked at the instructions on the Maker Camp page to build the stomp rocket and then made some modifications based on the materials we had on hand.  Let me just take a second here to say how important the ability to adapt is to the maker movement. We didn't have exactly the same materials as they listed on the Maker Camp site and that was great because I was able to discuss with my daughters about what we could substitute.  When I looked at the Maker Camp Google+ page later in the day it was full of pictures of things that people did to modify the stated design.  This is such an important skill that students learn from the maker movement in general - adapt and modify as needed.  Life is not a kit with all the required parts included.

We built our rockets and talked about how they would fly, why we should add fins, how we could make it more durable and still not make it too heavy, etc.  While we were building we had some great ideas about flight and rockets. 

Building a stomp rocket for Maker Camp

Building a stomp rocket for Maker Camp
Building a stomp rocket for Maker Camp
Once we had built our rockets we went outside to test them.  The first couple of times the girls didn't "stomp" on the milk jug very hard and then after a couple of tries their rockets were going pretty far.  Dad did so well that my rocket landed on top of my inlaws' house.  (It was OK, I went in and built a second rocket!)  We are planning going to a park - more wide up spaces with fewer places to lose our rockets.

I would consider the first day of Maker Camp a success for our family and we will probably check in again to do another project.  Thanks to Google and Make Magazine for hosting such a great activity.


  1. That is so awesome, Eric! What great experiences you're having and sharing with your girls! Did mom participate in this round too?

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Amy Loeffelholz (@AmyLoeffelholz) taught a unit on stomp rockets at our STEM Seeds PD camp in early June. This is the website of instructions she shared:

    Is that the same one they used and recommended for Maker Camp this week?

    1. Thanks. Jayme did not build her own rocket but watched us and snapped some of the pictures. She was having a great time as well, just didn't build one.

      The instructions for the Maker Camp were a little different (used a tube instead of just PVC pipe) but basically the same thing.

      They have some great Hangouts and activities planned this year for Maker Camp. I am very impressed.



  2. This is such an awesome activity to do with your kids. It's always nice to see parents, especially Dads, doing something fun with their kids while also teaching them life lessons. I'm sure this is something that your girls will always remember. Great job making memories with your daughters!