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Children launch rockets at summer library club kickoff

Chris Dorst
Lachlan Mulholland, 8, of East Bank, stomps on an empty soda bottle the launch the rocket he made. The activity was part of the Kanawha County Public Library's Summer Library Club kickoff.
Chris Dorst Ethan Carlton, 4, of South Charleston, makes a rocket out of construction paper and PVC pipe with help from volunteer Karen Lukens of Friends of the Library.
Chris Dorst Kian Seyedmonir, 4, looks through a telescope on Clendenin Street. The Kanawha Valley Astronomical Society brought the telescope to the library kickoff.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lachlan Mulholland, 8, had made a soda rocket before, but he'd never launched an air rocket until Saturday afternoon.

As a volunteer helped Lachlan build a nose on his red and blue rocket, the red-head said rockets were the reason he came to the Kanawha County Public Library's Summer Library Club kickoff.

"I wanted to see them take off," he said.

Children jumpstarted their plans for summer reading during the library's event at the Charleston Town Center Mall. Activities included launching air rockets, playing games, making crafts, touring the mobile library, visiting NASA's "Journey to Tomorrow" exhibit and registering for library cards and reading club membership.

The goal of the summer's space-themed "Reading is a Blast" library club is to get kids excited about reading.

"This is obviously a theme that's going to appeal probably to boys, and boys are a tough customer when it comes to getting them to want to read," Pam May, marketing supervisor for the library, said earlier in the week.

On Saturday, Clendenin Street was blocked off outside the mall so children could construct and launch their rockets. Jess White, education specialist for NASA in Fairmont, showed the children how to wrap PVC pipe in construction paper and secure it with duct tape to make the body of the rocket. Then, the children used the tape to create a nose on the rocket.

Lily Ross, 3, was too young to build a rocket and spent some time peeking through the telescopes on display instead. She said what she likes about reading is looking at the pictures. Her favorite books are the Curious George ones because "he's silly and curious," she said.

Although she couldn't participate, Lily watched the older children send their rockets flying. Empty two-liter bottles were connected to PVC pipe, and the open end of the PVC pipe was connected to a bicycle pump that was used to fill the bottles with air. Then, the rocket was placed on that end of the pipe. Following a "3, 2, 1" countdown, the children stomped on the bottles, and their rockets catapulted down the street.

Lennon Hickman, 8, finished launching her rocket and said the experience was "fun and cool."

For her, being at the reading kickoff was especially important. Lennon has dyslexia, and her grandmother said she's hoping Lennon will learn to read this summer.

"At this point, she cannot read at all," Lennon's grandmother, Allison Abbott of Elkview, said.

Abbott reads to Lennon, though, and Lennon repeats the books back in her own way. She said her favorites are Judy Blume books.

Lennon's sister, 4-year-old Jamie Hickman, also likes to read and said books about squirrels are her preference. She was still clutching the rocket she'd launched and said the best part of the experience was putting tape on the rocket and coloring it.

The girls' brother, 3-year-old Brandon Hall, also joined the activity. He said in a whisper that getting to make the rocket fly was "awesome."

Then, he pointed down Clendenin Street in an effort to show where his rocket traveled. With a grin, he added, "up in the sky."

On Saturday, the library also partnered with the Clay Center for its science program. In addition to space-related activities put on by the center, the library had a booth there where people could register for the library cards and the summer reading club.

Friday night, West Virginia author Homer Hickam spoke about his newest book, "Crater," the first in a series about a boy who lives on the moon. The event was also part of the summer library club's weekend kickoff.

The children's summer library club runs June 2 to July 21.

Reach Alison Matas at alison.matas@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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