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Build a Rocket

Build a rocket using things you (mostly) have at home. Check out the videos below for step-by-step instructions.
This project should be done with parental supervision and the use of protective eye gear is recommended.

What You'll Need

  • Plastic 35-mm film canister (The cap must fit inside the rim—not over the outside of the rim. Ask a local photography shop if they have extras.)
  • Several sheets of 8-1/2- by 11-inch paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Fizzy antacid tablet (sometimes called seltzer tablets)
  • Paper towels
  • Water

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Designing the Rocket

Decide how you'd like to cut the paper that will fit over the film canister. It can be a long, skinny rocket or a short, fat rocket. Try it with fins or without fins. Be creative!

  1. Wrap and tape a tube of paper around the film canister. Hint: Tape the canister to the end of the paper before you start wrapping.
  2. Important! Place the lid end of the canister down.
  3. Tape fins to your rocket body, if you want.
  4. Roll the circle (with a wedge cut out) into a cone and tape it to the rocket's top.

 

Blasting Off!

  1. Put on your eye protection.
  2. Turn the rocket upside down and take off the film canister's lid.
  3. Fill it one-third full of water.
  4. Drop one-half of the fizzy antacid tablet into the canister.
  5. Snap the lid on tight.
  6. Put rocket on a flat surface, such as a basketball court.
  7. Stand back and wait. Your rocket will blast off!

What's Going On?

 

Little bubbles of gas escape when the fizzy tablet is dropped into the water. Bubbles float to the top of the canister because they weigh less than water. Once they reach the surface, the bubbles break open. The gas that has escaped from the bubbles pushes on the sides of the canister and creates pressure.

 

The pressure causes the canister's lid to pop off the top (which is the part on the ground, since it's upside down). When the top pops off, the rocket goes along with it and shoots off into the sky!

 

The law of action and reaction is at work here. The gas causes the action by rushing out of the rocket. The reaction is the rocket taking off in the other direction. The rocket and the gas go in the opposite directions from the gas. The more quickly the gas leaves the rocket, the faster the rocket will be pushed in the other direction.

Watch the videos below to learn how to make bottle rockets and stomp rockets!

Make Rocket Balloons!

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Article adapted from the NASA website.