Sonoma County Office of Education

21st Century Learning

Make & Take Workshops: Rocket Launchers, Wind Tubes and Marble Machines

Author: Casey Shea
Published: 03.10.15

Maker GroupTeachers from around the county recently helped SCOE pilot three Make and Take Workshops as part of this year’s Maker Education initiative. Participants assembled three different pieces of equipment to take back to their classrooms and use with students. Raw materials, tools, and coaching were provided, but these sessions were designed as do-it-yourself workshops—with teachers doing the making.

Each of the projects are well-documented online (see the links below for instructions) and can be completed at home. For those lacking the tools, skills, or confidence to take on the projects alone, the workshops provided the missing ingredients—and SCOE did all the shopping for materials. Plus, it’s fun to make things together!



Rocket Launcher ConstructionAir Rocket Launcher | Instructions
The first session featured a compressed air rocket launcher. Shooting projectiles made from old manila folders or empty soda bottles high into the air using a bicycle pump for power is a proven attention-grabber for learners of all ages. At schools that have the launcher available, students can practice iterative design skills in making their rockets. Curriculum connections include volume and surface area in math and projectile motion in physics.



Wind Tube ConstructionWind Tubes | Instructions
Next up was wind tubes, one of several amazing projects from the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium. These vertical wind tunnels allow users to explore the effect of moving air on objects in a variety of ways. Design challenges range from creating vessels that carry the greatest load, reach the highest level, or hover within in a specific range. Check out this amazing little video made by a second-grader from the class of SSU Maker Educator Certificate alum Will Hart.



Marble Machine ConstructionMarble Machines | Instructions
The final and most popular session focused on Marble Machines, another Tinkering Studio Hall of Famer. Teachers from the far reaches of Sonoma County and a number of parent volunteers made quick work of constructing the pegboard canvases for students to create marble masterpieces. These boards allow for playful learning about force and motion, slope and gravity, and—above all—perseverance.



Thanks to all of the teachers who participated and helped demonstrate that these workshops are viable options for professional development that is fun and rewarding. In addition to offering the workshops described above again, we will be putting together additional sessions for building other items that are sure to engage your students. We will also be collecting stories and lesson plans from the teachers who have used these items in their classrooms to share at upcoming Make workshops.




Blog: Maker Education