When Toilets Fly

When Toilets Fly

February 27, 2019

What do you picture when you think of a rocket? Probably a tall, thin, round pointed shape with fiery engines. But we’ve learned that almost anything can be a rocket — including a toilet. The Michiana Rocketry Club in Michigan decided to launch a portapotty into the air. A portapotty is a big box with a potty inside that you can set up anywhere people need a bathroom. Usually they stay on the ground, but the Michiana folks strapped one to an engine, nailed on four metal fins to help it fly straight, and shot the 450-pound invention up into the air. The toilet flew for 38 seconds, eventually landing about 2,000 feet away — and using $2,600 of fuel on the trip. Thankfully, no one was inside.

Wee ones: How many toilets do you have in your house? Count them up!

Little kids: The project leader said “anyone” can strap together a nosecone, a round frame, and 4 fins to make a rocket. How many parts is that?  Bonus: If you launched a flying vacuum cleaner that flew 29 seconds, and this toilet flew for 38, which one had a shorter trip?

Big kids: If the toilet reached its highest point halfway through its 38-second flight, how long into the flight did it peak?  Bonus: If someone had ridden this toilet rocket, and peeked out for the middle 10 seconds of the flight, how long after takeoff would they have started?











Wee ones: Different for everyone…see what number you get!

Little kids: 6 parts.  Bonus: The vacuum cleaner had the shorter trip.

Big kids: 19 seconds.  Bonus: At 14 seconds (5 seconds before 19, until 5 seconds after 19).

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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