• Yep, It’s Rocket Science! by Bob Windt and Sarah Ford
By Susan Johnson
A local man who makes science fun and his volunteer helper have teamed up on a book project they hope will take off for new horizons — Yep, It’s Rocket Science! by Bob Windt and Sarah Ford. The launching pad for this new endeavor is a computer funding site called Kickstarter. If their goal is reached within a certain time limit, all systems are go! Otherwise, the project goes nowhere, and it’s back to the drawing board.
The Rock River Times spoke with both authors about their project. Here’s what they told us.
TRRT: What age group is this Rocket Science book designed for?
Bob Windt: “Generally, I work with kids from third grade up — 7-year-olds through high school. My primary group is probably third through eighth grade.”
TRRT: How long did it take to get collaboration for this project?
BW: “I’ve been doing this for many years, but I met this lady [Sarah Ford] who writes, and she was going to redo the book. She has connections with publishers. I am a retired aeronautics engineer. I like aeronautics, rockets, airplanes … I like to teach kids to use their minds and imaginations.”
TRRT: Have any schools or science clubs expressed an interest in getting the book for their group?
BW: “I haven’t had any express interest because they didn’t know anything was going to be available. I haven’t talked about it much yet because I wasn’t sure we were going to meet our goal. Any school that calls me, I will go and do a science project with them. Kids build their own science toys out of simple household stuff.”
TRRT: Could you tell us about the Kickstarter project?
BW: “The Kickstarter program is a program on the Internet through which people fund different things that they think would be a benefit for society. My thing is in the book with science toys and projects. We only have another 20 days or so to fund it. If it isn’t funded completely, we don’t get it. People donate with a credit card, and if we don’t reach the goal, then everything goes back to the people who donated to it.”
TRRT: How did this project come about?
BW: “I’ve been involved with schools and Boy Scouts for about 15 years. I’ve also been involved with Rockford AirFest; I do the paper rockets there. I do a lot of schools, also museums. Often, different Scout groups will call me and ask if I can do a project on rockets or boats or airplanes or cars — anything scientific. I have all these little science toys — vehicles that kids can build from cheap household items like Styrofoam plates, paper and school glue.”
Sarah Ford told us the story from her perspective.
TRRT: How did you get involved in this project?
Sarah Ford: “Bob and I have been friends for about six years. I met Bob through my son, Isaiah. He’s been amazing with him and helps with learning. He has the kids come over to his workshops. He’s a retired aeronautical engineer, and he has this passion for reaching kids and getting them engaged. He has hovercraft and model planes, but mostly he encourages kids to make things themselves. … It was just getting to know him as a very kind and giving person. … He goes to schools and festivals, so I volunteered, and I have seen him in action, and the kids just love him. He really inspires kids. It’s so cool to see how he makes that connection with them.”
TRRT: How did you get into this Kickstarter project?
SF: “Bob has told me that his dream was to reach as many kids as possible with this love of science. He wants to share his love of science with kids, so he asked me, ‘How do we reach more kids?’ I have responded to a few Kickstarter projects. I’ve been aware of it through social media. I love the concept of people from all over contributing to each other’s ideas. So, I thought if we could get votes and funding for Bob’s project and reach other networks … I put the project together and proposed it to Bob.
“The thing about Kickstarter is all or nothing as a crowd-funding site. You either have to raise the amount you set, or don’t get any money. … As of last night (Monday), we have $4,500, plus some personal donations. Everyone has a credit card; some people write checks. We’ll make sure they get their rewards. We are about halfway done — 12 days left to go.”
To donate or make pledges, go to Kickstarter.com and enter the amount you wish to donate.
From the Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2012, issue