Rockets are complicated with multiple systems and thousands of people working together to produce a successful launch. The basics behind what causes a rocket to propel into the sky is not. It’s related to Newton’s Third Law of Motion: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Hot gas is pushed at high speeds through the bottom of the rocket and this action downward causes the rocket to move up.
Make a Straw Rocket
Miss Amelia creates the structural system of a rocket including a body, nose cone, and fins that you can make at home.
- Duct tape
- Paper or craft foam
- Clay (optional)
- Wrap a strip of paper around the straw and tape it to make a tube that is slightly bigger than the straw. If you have a second straw that slightly bigger, that would work too!
- Cut the paper tube to the length of your rocket.
- Tape up one end of the paper tube OR add a nose cone out of clay to one end. Does adding more or less weight to the nose cone make a difference?
- Cut out paper or craft foam to make fins. How does the number of fins impact the rocket? Does the size and shape of the fins make a difference?
- Attach the fins to the paper tube using tape.
- Place the rocket on the end of the straw.
- Blow air through the straw and watch the rocket launch into the sky!
- Test how the launch angle affects the flight path of the rocket.
For more information on this topic, check out the following websites:
DIY Stomp Rockets: Interested in making the rocket launcher that we use during summer camp? Use these instructions to make your own.
“Rockets Science: How Rockets Work” Video: Learn the part of a rocket and the science behind a rocket launch.
“Why Are Rockets Launched in Florida?” Video: Did you catch the most recent rocket launch from Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida? Learn why the space station is located closer to the equator. (Video Update: SpaceX is now launching manned missions from this location.)