In 1958 Estes Industries made it possible for science loving families to gather together and enjoy the simple pleasures of watching model rockets rip into the sky with the power of the company’s small yet powerful engines. But those engines can do more than launch rockets, with some ingenuity parents can use the engine with their kids in other awesome ways. Here are seven of them.
Note: We take safety seriously and urge you to exercise caution if you plan on doing any of the things listed. Follow the laws of your city and state, keep a distance when igniting, and definitely don’t point the engine at anybody.
1. Add Punch to Your Pinewood Derby Car
Just because they were designed to send lightweight rockets skyward, doesn’t mean Estes engines can’t be used on the ground as well. Mount an engine on a pinewood car and send it roaring across its track. Bonus points if you can keep the car in its track and stop it from going airborne.
2. Rocket Power a Skateboard
Here’s a bit of fun math. Engine plus skateboard equals you can’t even believe how much fun you’re having. Grab your engine, grab a skateboard and use heavy-duty tape or glue to rocket-power your skateboard. This will work best in an empty parking lot or a cleared out driveway. Also, please don’t let anyone sit or stand on the board.
3. Launch a Rocket with a GoPro Attached
Combine the worlds of model rocketry and digital video by adding a spot in your rocket’s tubing that can snuggly fit a GoPro. Launch and then retrieve the rocket so that you can watch the sweet footage you just captured.
4. Send a Styrofoam Airplane Flying
Rockets are fun but if you’re tired of sending things straight up and down, try putting your Estes engine on a styrofoam airplane. The plane will already glide on its own if properly thrown, but the engine will push it that much farther and faster.
5. Run a Static Test
Sometimes rocket scientists test engines by firing them off while keeping them attached to their launch pad. You can do the same thing with Estes model rocket engines, locking them in place to test the thrust of different engine sizes. Think of this as a fun excuse to keep the action close instead of watching the engines fly away.
6. Cluster Them Together for a Super Rocket
After you’ve launched a few single engine model rockets, try stepping it up and testing your skills by clustering multiple engines on a single rocket. This will cost more and increase your chances of failure, but it will also be awesome and you should definitely do it. Responsibly.
7. Make Your Own
For DIY purists building a model rocket might not be enough, to them we suggest trying to make their own engine. While Estes has been quiet about the components of their traditional black powder engines, hobbyists have made their own methods available online that are easy to find. Again, please be careful.