a peek inside the fishbowl

24 Jun, 2014

Having a blast, with rockets

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy

We did something totally new here at Casa Fishbowl, we launched a rocket. (!)

This process started a few months ago with a visit to the Hobby House in Vanier. Have you ever been? It’s chock full of great stuff, mostly, er, hobby related wares (hence the name HOBBY HOUSE) but I picked out a cool puzzle and Mark bought himself a model rocket.

Here’s where I confess that I know absolutely nothing about model rocketry, but I do know that Mark was pretty happy about bringing it home. He spent a few evenings assembling it in the basement.

I can share these observations:

  • The rocket is reusable. He bought three “engines” to go in his rocket. This makes it good for three launches.
  • It has a maximum altitude of 335 meters (1100 feet) and has a little plastic parachute hidden in the cone to enable a safe landing (at least that’s the theory).
  • This whole thing solidified my belief that there is a 12-year old boy inside every grown man. (This is not necessarily a bad thing.)

The model didn’t take long to build, but then we had bit of a dilemma. Where in Ottawa does one go to launch a rocket? Especially in the west end? It needed to be a sizeable public space that’s not too close to residential areas/people/trees. We looked at various maps and didn’t come to any satisfactory conclusions but eventually settled on the field behind Dulude arena near Carling and the Queensway. (Note: it’s also very good area for kite-flying.)

And THEN we waited for good weather, and I’m glad we did, because the perfect windless and sunny afternoon practically fell into our laps. We drove over hoping their wasn’t a baseball game going on, plunked ourselves down in the middle of the field, and watched the chief builder get ready for liftoff.

Final pre-launch preparations

Our model rocket is ready for blast off!

Ready for liftoff!

Rocket launch

Recon team is in motion!

It was pretty darn exciting. The golden afternoon, the plush grass under my feet, the rocket burning a trail up, up, up into the sky. I certainly understand the appeal now.

Emma nabbed a video of the first launch for posterity. (Yes, that’s me shrieking.)

It was so exciting that it wasn’t until afterwards that I remembered to be afraid. Oy. What if the thing tipped over and launched sideways? I shudder to think about it. That being said, please be cautious if you decide to try building and launching your own model rockets!

Sidebar: Here’s the thing about doing these kinds of activities with kids; you can include as much or as little of the science as you want.  You know when you blow up a balloon you pinch it at the end, and if you let go it moves really fast, zig zagging everywhere until it’s run out of air? Well, that’s essentially what’s happening when you are launching a rocket, but bigger and heavier rockets need fuel to achieve liftoff and overcome gravity. Cool stuff eh?

4 Responses to "Having a blast, with rockets"

1 | Paula

June 24th, 2014 at 9:36 pm


My 8 year old son has the same model and he loves it! Speaking from experience, tell your husband to cut a hole in the parachute if he plans to use B or C engines! We have lost a few rockets, but we’re learning as we go since my son joined the ORG.

2 | Rocket science

June 27th, 2014 at 1:54 pm


Coool ! I’m going to get one. How much do replacement engines cost (cost per launch). I love water rockets but I think it’s time I did a proper flammable fuel projectile.
Funny you should mention the thing about the rocket tipping over. We (family and I) were in Brewer Park a few years ago and there was another family launching a water rocket. This was a SUPER water rocket made by the father/rocket scientist. He used a gas-powered compressor to pump it up and used a remote electric trigger to launch it. At the last second, the wind tipped it over as it launched. The rocket blasted (serious velocity) by the dad/family, narrowly missing them and crashing into a parking lot. I’ll always remember the look on the father’s face (absolute shock and humiliation). The rest of the family was absolutely stunned.

3 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Destination: Carlington Hill - a peek inside the fishbowl

August 14th, 2020 at 6:11 pm


[…] haven’t been here for years. (The last time may have been when we set off Mark’s rocket.)  I had not yet seen the amazing bike park at the top! I hope it’s being used because […]

4 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Destination: Carlington Hill - a peek inside the fishbowl

August 14th, 2020 at 6:14 pm


[…] I haven’t been here for years. (The last time may have been when we set off Mark’s rocket.)  […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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