Young pupils learn how to make their own rockets

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Dozens of young pupils became rocket scientists for a day after getting all fired up by a local engineering firm.

Ampthill-based Lockheed Martin UK invited 120 children from Livingstone Primary School to design water bottle rockets and then blast them more than 30 feet in the air.

The event was the idea of graduate engineers at Lockheed Martin as part of the company’s community work to mark British Science Week.

They covered basic aerodynamics and propulsion theory with the Bedford school children and then helped them apply the science to their own creations.

Employee Alex Godfrey said: “We talked about why the rockets needed to be pointy, and how fins on the side are needed to stabilise flight. The children took it all on board and created some amazing bottle rockets from the simple supplies we gave them.

“After we talked about the science of actually launching the rockets the children were very excited to see it in action. It’s one thing to learn the theory behind propulsion and thrust in a classroom but to see it working in real life – especially when something they’ve created is being launched high in the air – delighted them all.”

The rockets were made out of plastic bottles with a small amount of water poured into them. Compressed air was then pumped into the bottles and as the air pressure forced the water out, the rockets soared upwards.

Livingstone Primary School science coordinator Alison White said: “Lockheed Martin provided us with an amazing learning experience. The children have not stopped talking about it. They had a fantastic time designing and making their rockets and the launch was a real talking point.

“We were really impressed with the standard of work and the discussions the children were having. They were involved in every step, even deciding on how much water should be in the bottles and understanding how that affected the flight.

“We thought the sessions were brilliantly planned and delivered for all our different classes and age groups. The children had a wonderful day being rocket scientists.”

The sessions were given to classes throughout the school, from years one to six.

Year four pupil Keren, 9, said: “Our rocket was so good. We used less water and it went really high. I really enjoyed the whole process, from drawing and designing the rocket, to making it, and then seeing it fly. It was awesome.”