Friday, October 10, 2014

Not On The High Street Dad Academy: DIY rocket building workshop

A high percentage of the crafts people who make the products sold by Not on the High Street are female, so its founders decided to do something about that.

It's calling for Dadpreneurs everywhere to get in touch and set up Dad Academy to support this initiative.

Dad Academy sets out to teach dads some potentially lost playtime skills. Last week they built and raced their own LEGO cars. Next week we'll learn about storytelling. This week we built rockets.

You can try this at home. All you'll need is.

1 fizzy drink bottle.

1 piece of cardboard.

1 piece of thick coloured paper.

1 cork.

1 football pump adapter.

Gaffer tape.


1 track pump.

Some water.

1 tennis ball.

Step 1. Turn your bottle upside down and gaffer tape a tennis ball to the end of it. This provides a bit of weight at the tip of your rocket - so it doesn't go floating off to the sides like one of those super-light kids' footballs.

Step 2. Cut three fins for your rocket by taking a rectangle of cardboard and cutting it into two triangles. 

Step 3. This is probably the trickiest bit. Stick your fins to the end opposite to the tennis ball. You want about 10cm of find protruding out from the bottom of the bottle. This is so you can attach the pump to the nozzle when it comes time to launch. This step is tricky because, well, it's hard to tape your fins on to the bottle and get them to stay rigid. 

Step 4. Take your football pump nozzle and poke it through a cork you've cut in half so that it looks like the one in the picture below. Don't put it in your bottle yet. You'll need to fill it with a bit of water before you do. If you do put it in the end, do it gently so you can remove it easily. 

Step 5. Make a nose cone for your rocket by folding your thick coloured paper and taping it to the bottle over your tennis ball. 

Step 6. Fill your bottle 20-25% full of water then put your cork in the bottom pushing it in as far as it will go. Then invert it, stand it on its fins and connect your track pump. It'll look something like this. 

Step 7. Start pumping! After enough pressure has built up, it will pop your cork out and water will spew out of the nozzle and towards the ground with enough force to lift your rocket high (probably around 50m) up in the air. Experiment with amounts of water. The world record is around 600m! Good luck!

Thanks to Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Jan Wong for the rocket building masterclass, thanks to Not On The High Street for arranging it all and thanks to Harriet, Bryony and Sharan for being such lovely hosts. Oh and thanks to the Soho House basement staff for keeping those mini burgers, sausages and JD and cokes coming. Here's to drunk rocket building! No hold on, that's probably Bad Dad Academy. Save the bottles for the rockets. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Should the UK get e-voting?

I've been writing about elections and electronic voting for the past 20 months. So it's interesting to watch it appear on the agenda in the UK.

 I was in Parliament last week for the Speaker's Commission on Digital Democracy And I'm still signed up to Google Alerts to get the latest news.

 It's fascinating to hear the debate, although sometimes it's frustrating - the UK should offer electronic voting this year or next, not in the five or ten years it'll probably take.

 The older I get, the more I admire the line advertising agency, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, use: "Whilst we don't hope to re-invent the wheel, we would like it to turn a bit faster."

 I'm writing this as I listen to this debate and I can tell you that Emma Mulqueeny from the Speaker's Commission, one of the people involved, reveals the timeframe she predict's for e-voting's implementation in the UK.

 Read what Sky News has to say about the debate.