"A lot of the things that we do have a delayed sense of gratification to it," said Cantey Smith, Tellus' education director. "One of the wonderful things about the rocketry workshop is that [when] they come in, they're able to literally with their own hands [put] a rocket together. And then they're able to go out and watch the fruits of their labor. They're going to see immediately how straight the rocket flies. They're going to see immediately if the parachute deploys and as it comes back down to earth, is it a soft landing?
"So all these things, they're able to see as a direct result from their science that they've accrued as far as building and putting it together. The balance of the directional fins on the body of the rocket tube and all of those things come into play. So it's just wonderful to see how the different components come together and make a whole."
The family-oriented event drew a wide range of participants, from parents and their children to adults with an interest in rocketry. To offer the workshop, Smith said Tellus received assistance from Southern Area Rocketry in the form of launch equipment and expertise.
"SoAR -- Southern Area Rocketry -- is a chartered section of the National Association of Rocketry," SoAR President Jorge Blanco said. "As such, we provide expertise on how to build rockets, how to fly them. ... The rockets [at Tellus were] made out of material that will crumple rather than penetrate.
"So if these rockets landed on the top of a car, it would just crumple the rocket. So the rockets are made out of paper and plastic. You use some modeling cement to hold it all together. And what we do in the classroom is they build for an hour, they visit the museum for an hour, then they come out and launch. That hour is to give the glue a chance to set up. ... On the outside, we have the National Association of Rocketry standard launch pads. These are pads you can't buy at the store. We make them all. The pads are made of Corian -- the same [material] you see in kitchen counters -- and iron. And then there is a stainless steel launch rod."
During the launch, the participants' rockets reached about 125 feet in altitude before landing -- in a flight that spanned nearly 40 seconds. Developing an interest in model rockets in childhood, Blanco welcomes the opportunity to introduce the hobby to individuals of all ages.
"I enjoy doing it for the challenge," Blanco said. "I'm an engineer. I love building things but anything I can do to give a parent an alternative to electronic stimulus -- that means TV, all of the various gaming -- anything I can do to help them get their kids' minds out of that and into something real and practical, that's something I want to be a part of."
Encompassing 120,000 square feet at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville, Tellus is comprised of four main galleries -- The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science In Motion and The Collins Family My Big Backyard -- a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory. A Smithsonian affiliate, Tellus has attracted about 700,000 visitors since opening in January 2009.
"I think everyone had a wonderful time," Smith said about the model rocket workshop. "... There really is something so exciting about rocketry that really catches people's imagination. I think if we can trigger just one child's interest in space with that tie in from the rocketry then it's all been well worth it."
For more information about the museum and its offerings, call 770-606-5700 or visit www.tellusmuseum.org. To obtain further details about SoAR, visit www.soarrocketry.org.