Tag Archives: Ben Raikes

Magical day facilitating 6th grade water rockets with @benedickraikes! @The_School #scichat #STEM #MakerEd

I had such a great day with Ben Raikes (@benedickraikes) and the 6th graders! I  spent much of it (freezing) in the park to accompany our three separate learning groups as they tested their water rocket launchers. Many thanks to Katie Klein (@KKleinNYC) and Jazmin Sherwood for helping so generously at today’s soft launch too! 

Some groups noticed a few design flaws with their launcher and now have a bit of problem solving to do before Monday’s official class-wide launch. Either their collar was too loose, pieces weren’t fully glued together, screws needed to be tightened, or clamps needs to be height-adjusted. So much prototyping and learning!

Check out how Ben bravely and manually facilitated lift off for many of the rockets in the video below…

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Building water rocket launchers with @bendickraikes in 6th science at @The_School

@BenedickRaikes is the 6th grade science teacher at The School at Columbia University and an extraordinary colleague. He was inspired to build water rocket launchers this semester. In preparation for that, he purchased a book, Make: Rockets, and a Water Rocket Launcher kit from Maker Shed. (Update: these kits do not seem to be currently available…)

After assembling the kit’s prototype, Ben felt much better about asking 6th graders to build their own water rocket launchers as well. We purchased all of the parts using the supplies list from the book (also on the DIY project website). Most of the materials came from Lowe’s, and this process was made substantially easier as the book includes all of the parts numbers. Other bits and bobs were sourced from Amazon and the neighborhood hardware store.

Ben and I thought it would be fun if the students were to “place an order” at Lowe’s for the materials, so we shared the shopping list with them. Students were tasked with filling out a spreadsheet in math class that included space for them to insert an image of each part and an area for them to tally the cost of the project. See below:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 2.17.18 PM.png

This week, 6th graders assembled their water rocket launchers using plans from Make Magazine: http://makezine.com/projects/water-rocket-launcher Students were divided into 4 groups of about 4-5 students. Each group had a faculty mentor at their table — 6th Grade Math Teacher Catherine Hildebrandt (@KKleinNYC), Math Associate Jazmin Sherwood, Intermediate Division Principal Kevin Fittinghoff, and me — which left Ben to float from group to group offering help and guidance. We had to saw PVC and wood, join pieces with epoxy or PVC primer and cement, assemble materials, work with drills, screwdrivers, utility knives, pliers, clamps, and more.

After two days of constructing rocket launchers, students were asked to fill out a self-reflection feedback sheet with the following questions:

  1. Did you enjoy the rocket launcher building project? Give reasons.
  2. What was your favorite part of the project?
  3. What did you find difficult or challenging?
  4. Did you learn anything new doing this activity?
  5. What are your thoughts about working in a group of 4 or 5 children?
  6. Would you be interested in doing a project like this again? What would you chose to build? (Realistic suggestions only please!)

Tomorrow students will have a soft launch (pun intended!) of their rockets. On Monday, the grade will gather together in the park for the official launch and to compare results.

After seeing my tweet about our project, Chris Casal (@Mr_Casal) shared a link to a wonderful video highlighting the work of Christine Boyer (@5boyer) and her 5th graders who launched rockets last year. Christine also provided a wonderful documentation of the project here, and she recently presented her class’s work at the National Science Teachers Assocation‘s annual conference!

LIFTOFF TO LEARNING from Ralph King, Hawkview Pictures on Vimeo.



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Planning for @The_School’s next weather balloon launch with @jeffisfast & @benedickraikes! #STEM

We’re looking forward to The School‘s second annual High Altitude Weather Balloon Launch on April 18th with the Global Space Balloon Challenge. Thankfully, a brilliant parent and member of our community, Jeff Tarr (@jeffisfast) is willing to help us again this year to elevate our understanding and capabilities with this project.

I’m currently at a planning meeting with Jeff and The School’s 6th grade science teacher,  Ben Raikes (@benedickraikes), to work out the shopping list and duties for all involved. It takes a village (and a tank of helium)…

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.@jeffisfast @benedickraikes & @The_School’s 6th grade did the Global Space Balloon Challenge! #GSBchallenge

screenshot by Amy Eguchi

Jeff Tarr (@JeffIsFast) is an inventor/entrepreneur/maker/tinkerer/programmer with a (thankfully) vested interest in sharing his talents and ideas with teachers and students at The School at Columbia University. He approached Ben Raikes (@benedickraikes), 6th grade Science teacher, and me in early October about participating in the Global Space Balloon Challenge to launch a High Altitide Balloon (HAB).

The timing was awesome, as I’d seen a recent message from Laura Blankenship (@lblanken) in which she shared a video and blurb about her students’ participation in the challenge at The Baldwin School:

The Baldwin School partnered with Lancaster Country Day School for the launch of the space balloon and items from a kit Baldwin won in the spring. The kit had items like a GoPro camera, a GPS tracker and a flight computer to gather data like altitude, temperature, pressure and wind speed.

Jeff worked tirelessly (independently and collaboratively) to advocate for the project, organize a plan, propose a budget, program sensors, choose a launch point, and set up a GPS tracker to chart the path of the balloon! People could follow via The SPOT App on an iOS device or via the web using his link and a password!

Here’s a link to the Eagle Pro Weather Balloon Kit we purchased from High Altitude Sciencehttps://www.highaltitudescience.com/products/eagle-pro-near-space-kit

Other educators were equally excited and supportive of the project including Amy Eguchi who shared the map photo (at the top of this post) with a message explaining that the image “shows how it has travelled. You can see the gap which is when the ballon was above 60,000m. Pretty cool :)”

It was so rewarding to read Ben’s email to faculty which included two awesome still photos from the GoPro camera attached to the frame!

Dear Colleagues,
Yesterday we launched a helium balloon  from Black Rock. It went to 104,000 ft! We have video footage from a GoPro that was strapped onto the rig. Here are a few screen grabs until we can produce a little film..
Buzz I mean Ben
ps Those pieces are bits of the balloon that has just burst. And that’s our parachute… It landed in a back yard in Williamsburg MA.

I was kept in the loop throughout the process and, though I missed the actual balloon launch, I cheered from afar. Below are a couple of tweets I saw from the trip to Black Rock Forest on the day of the event:

Watch the awesome video Hilary Szanto created about the project here: http://thetube.theschool.columbia.edu/files/balloon2_25155.mp4


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