By Tim Leeds
Rockets were being launched in the meeting room at the Havre-Hill County Library Wednesday.
They weren't fireworks. These rockets were powered by sodium bicarbonate and water, specifically, antacid tablets.
It was all part of Storytime at the library. The theme for this year's summer programs at the library is "Cosmic Encounters at the Library," so Child Librarian Carrie Wilson has been finding activities related to this theme.
The children took donated air-tight plastic tubes, about one-and-a-half inches wide and three inches tall, decorated the tubes as a rocket. They then placed the tablets into the base, which was filled with water. The decorated tube was then placed back on the base.
The pressure from the carbon dioxide released built up as the sodium bicarbonate reacted with the water, until the rocket took off with a "pop" and flew four or five feet into the air.
This is the latest of the storytime activities held at the library. The season was kicked off with a planetarium set up in the meeting room, rented from the Museum of the Rockies by the Friends of the Library. Children took a guided tour of the heavens in the inflatable planetarium, with members of the AmeriCorps team giving the tours. The AmeriCorps team is helping the library staff with activities throughout the summer program.
Head Librarian Bonnie Williamson said the Storytime keeps the library pretty busy. She said they average 26 children at Storytime, which is held in the library every Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. through August 30, and from 3-4 p.m. in Room D-9 at Oakwood Village Thursdays through August 24. Williamson said they have had as many as 50 children attend some of the storytimes.
Williamson said children can still register for the summer reading program through July 21. Children can win awards for the number of library books they read over the summer in this program, which runs through July 26.
Children enrolled have a reading record to write down how much time they read; they then record their time on a registration form at the library desk when they come in to the library.
Prizes are given as incentives for the amount of time the children read, with different levels for three age categories, and grand prizes given to the children who read the most in each category.
Library cards must be clear of overdue materials to participate in the program.
Williamson said the program has been very successful over the years. She said last year they checked out more than 10,000 children's books during the program, and usually have 300 to 400 children enrolled by the end.