Young girl's HOWTO video on rocket making

My 4-year-old and I had a terrific time building his first model rocket and launching it at NASA Ames last weekend with the LUNAR rocketry club. Something must be in the air (black powder fumes?) because this morning, Shawn Connally showed me this fun video, "Sylvia's Super Awesome Mini Maker Show: Rockets!" For the full directions, see Make: Online!


  1. LUNAR was my old rocket club, 1997-2002. Great people, superbly organized. Watching the range equipment being deployed at the old field in Livermoore was inspirational.

    Getting use of Moffat Field was quite a coup.

    1. Great hobby girl. You go girl!! Your are the bomb!!

      Came accross you by mistake. I am glad I found you and I had to make a my comment to you.

      Keep up your ideas. Great work on your part. OK?


  2. I used to do all the rocket launches for the rocketry classes at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and I loved being “The Rocket Lady”.

    This girl is awesome and it’s so great to see a kid with such enthusiasm for science!

  3. She would have really benefited from a “string test” for stability. You can see at launch how it spiraled around. That’s not exactly safe.

    In the 70s we built a rocket from a toilet paper tube with 1/12 of an egg carton for the nose cone.

    Our driveway string test results showed negative stability until we added a nose weight. Then the S.S.Charmin flew straight and true, and we had 11 nose cones left for future flights.

  4. She was very cute, but holy shit she’s gonna kill somebody with that thing. Jeebus! A C6-3? At least start them off with a 1/2A6-2 or an A8-3 till you know its stable.

    1. Agreed – that is a pretty nuts thing to do with a C6-3. When I was 12 I burned my chest off with a loose C6-3 – 3rd degree burns. Start with something smaller for heaven’s sake.

  5. Holy cow! Is that an ESTES rocket motor?? I thought Homeland Security had shut down that company. I haven’t seen one of those in 20 years.

    Wow… memories of the hand grenade pin safety key. And huffing the spent engines for their precious fumes.

    Anyone else remember the 110 film camera nose package? Can you post pics? I never saw one.

    1. I had one of those ones that took the 110 film cartridge. The camera was part of the nose cap. Basically the shutter was a spring loaded piece of plastic with a small hole in it that slid in front of the lens. You tensioned the spring by pulling an attached string taunt and then, looping the string in a U shape along the bottom of the nose cap, placed the nose cap snugly into the rocket’s body. The connection between the nose cap and the body held the shutter closed until the parachute charge popped it out. When this happened, the shutter released.

      I spent a lot of time building it and scraping together money for it. It looked awesome, flew straight as an arrow, and soared so high I couldn’t see it anymore. And never did again…

  6. #11: Estes survived the security scares. In some ways its stuff is more available than ever. Wal-Mart, Target, and Michael’s craft stores moved their product in incredible volumes.

    The company was recently sold to its largest distributor, which is apparently shifting it back to a hobby focus. They’re re-releasing nice old kits you actually have to build, including Centuri designs from 1970s.

    The 110 Astrocam can still be found in stores here and there. I got one decent picture out of mine. Decent meaning identifiable as the ground.

    Estes has released a couple of mediocre digital rocket cameras. Most folks who are serious about rocket photography buy pen cameras and make their own mirror mounts.

  7. I love rockets and loved that video… Never thought about doing a papercraft rocket…

    One minor gripe though… When you build model rockets, you’re **supposed** to make a parachute so it doesn’t crash…

  8. Making your own rockets can be extremely dangerous, as shown by the wayward trajectory of hers after launch, and as others here have pointed out. Construction paper isn’t nearly rigid enough for stable fins. Plus, she didn’t seem to follow her own advice about staying away from trees, since you can see a whole bunch in the background.

  9. Yeah, the paper fins are way too flimsy, and you should always test a new design for stability. The forward fins probably didn’t help; I knew kids who had disastrous experiences with those back in the 70s; they really tend to destabilize the rocket. Where are her parents? You think they’d be alarmed by the thing pulling a loop and shooting off sideways.

  10. She’s adorable! I love the fact that she rolls her own rocket body tubes and makes everything from scratch. No kits for this grrrl! Can’t wait till she tries for a multi-stage launch, or maybe a cluster mount with a payload. A camera, maybe?

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