Blasting off

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Students in the 4-H Space Adventure Camp follow the launch of a water bottle rocket Wednesday afternoon on the Marietta College Campus.

Science packaged as fun might account for the runaway popularity of the 4-H Space Science Camp, now in its 26th year.

An expanded program this year offered three days of recreation and scientific insight for 61 students from around Ohio, ranging in age from 11 to 14.

The camp, sponsored by 4-H Youth Development, Marietta College and The Ohio State University Extension, included activities ranging from star-gazing at the college planetarium to building working models of hot air balloons and rockets from everyday household materials. The students bunked at the McCoy Hall dorm on campus, swam at the Betsey Mills Club pool and had breakfast, lunch and dinner with their counselors at the Gilman dining center.

On Wednesday afternoon in one of the lecture rooms in the Rickey Science Center, volunteer Natalie Huggins directed students in building noodle flyers, made from sections of foam swimming pool noodles and propelled by rubber bands. Counselors sliced up Styrofoam food cartons into triangular fins.

“Now you have to stick this exactly where I’m showing you, or I swear it will explode,” she told the 20 or students as they inserted fins and carefully stuck a piece of plastic into the ends to secure the rubber band.

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Hal Jeffrey watches as his water bottle rocket speeds into the air at the 4-H Space Adventure Camp on the Marietta College campus Wednesday afternoon.

Outside, another group prepared to launch pop bottle rockets. The 2-liter containers were capped, about half full of water, and bore cardboard fins attached with duct tape. Franci Bolden, a physics technician at the college, operated a compressor valve as 4-H staffer Tim Glover gave the students directions on how to get ready.

“You get your rocket on the launch pad and we’ll do a countdown. Don’t pull the string too fast or it will set off a nuclear detonation and we will all die in the crater,” he yelled.

“Sometimes you need to say something to get their attention,” Bolden said.

The rockets, after being filled with compressed air, shot up past the tops of the giant trees next to the science hall.

Zoe Lawhead, 12, from Columbus, said it was her first experience in Marietta.

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Space Adventure Camp students test out noodle flyers they built in the Rickey Science Hall at Marietta College Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s fun here,” she said. “I really enjoyed building and flying the hot air balloons. One got stuck in a tree.”

Asher Whitehead, 12, of Marysville, liked the flight simulator, and Bailey Bowers, 12, of Vincent, enjoyed some of the camp freedoms.

“I like staying up late in the dorms,” he said.

Olivia Painter, an 11-year-old from Columbus, said the planetarium experience was the highlight of the camp for her.

“Just to look at the stars and nebulae from all different angles, I love science,” she said. “I want to go to Mars.”

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Yatin Ramavarapu stretches the rubber band propulsion system on the noodle flyer he built during the 4-H Space Adventure Camp on Wednesday afternoon. More than 60 students from around the state enrolled in the three-day camp, held on the campus of Marietta College.

About the camp

• 4-H Space Adventure Camp.

• Dates: June 11-13.

• Students: 61.

• Location: Marietta College.

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Tim Glover, a 4-H staff member, and a student in the Space Adventure Camp react as the camper releases a water bottle rocket Wednesday.

•Organizers: 4-H Youth Development, Marietta College, OSU Extension.

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