P.E.I. students launch homemade rockets to celebrate 50th anniversary of moon landing

The next generation of potential astronauts on Prince Edward Island were among the many celebrating the anniversary of the historic Saturn 5 rocket launch — and did so by trying their hands at making rockets of their own.

Commemoration events took place for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

On July 16, 1969, the Saturn V rocket with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Four days later, Armstrong became the first person to step on the surface of the moon and Aldrin joined him about 20 minutes later.

Back on Earth — and 50 years later — the homemade rocket science experiments were part of a drop-in program sponsored by the P.E.I. Public Libraries.

For the experiment, the kids used things normally found in the kitchen, like pop bottles, baking soda and vinegar.

Six-year-old Scarlett Arfken incorporated pompoms into her design — with the hopes that they'd explode in mid-air. 

"I hope when it launches then pompoms will rain down!" she said. 

Awesome to see kids take an intererst

The program was put on by STEAM and Brilliant Labs, two groups that focus on science education, in partnership the Canadian Space Agency. 

The goal was to use a fun experiment to introduce children to the basics of aerodynamics. 

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"I heard some children talking about reducing drag and using really technical terms, which was awesome to hear," said Carron McCabe, program director for Brilliant Labs in P.E.I. 

She said fins, a nose cone and 3D printed items were also used to add some additional shapes to the children's designs. 

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"They couldn't wait to get out here," said McCabe. 

"The decorating is a lot of fun, but really what they want is the big bang, they want to see how high their rocket could go, which one had the best landing, which one went the furthest."

Three! Two! One! Blast off!

Eight-year-old Ben Docherty was hoping his rocket could possibly end up in space — so even included a large red tip on the top to alert other space ships. 

"The launch went how I hoped," Docherty said. 

"I thought it would go the height of a light pole but it didn't end up doing it in the end, so ... I'm kind of disappointed but happy at the same time." 

There were also some real-world additions as part of some of the rocket's design.

"We partnered with the Canadian Space Agency who sent us all kinds of posters and stickers ... just kind of making the connection to that, yeah, we are having a lot of fun today but it's actually connected to the real world and lots of opportunities and careers," she said.

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