Design, build and launch your very own rocket ship! Once completed, try hitting different targets by adjusting the launch angle and predict where your rocket will land.
- Cardstock, craft foam or thin cardboard
- Foam insulation tube or thin pool noodle (12-inch piece)
- Plastic drinking straw (1)
- Wide rubber band (1)
- Yardstick or long stick (1)
- Yarn (3-foot piece)
- Zip tie (1)
Part 1 – Build Your Rocket
- Fold the yarn in half lengthwise.
- Tie the middle of the yarn to the rubber band.
- Tie the loose ends of yarn together in a knot at the end opposite the rubber band.
- Use a straw to push the rubber band and yarn through the foam tube, so that the rubber band sticks out at one end of the tube, and the yarn is visible at the other end of the tube.
- Wrap a zip tie around the end of the foam tube near the rubber band. Have an adult help secure it as tight as it will go, so it holds the rubber band in place and does not come out when you pull on it. Use scissors to trim off the excess zip tie so that it does not stick out.
- Create fins out of recycled cardstock, craft foam or thin cardboard by cutting a four-inch square from the material. Fold and cut the square on a diagonal to form two triangles.
- Attach fins to the outside of the foam tube with duct tape, near the end with the yarn.
- Alternatively, create a rocket of your own design out of recyclables!
Part 2 – Launch Your Rocket
- Slip the rubber band over your finger, a yardstick, or another type of long stick. Use your other hand to pull back on the yarn approximately 12 inches.
- Stretch the rubber band and prepare to launch.
- Aim the rocket, steering clear of people, animals and fragile objects. Countdown and then launch!
- Experiment with launching the rocket at different angles. Try to hit a variety of targets and predict where the rocket will land.
Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!
Split your students into teams and have them compete to see who can design a rocket that will launch the farthest. Create multiple rounds where teams take turns launching their rocket. Record how far each team was able to launch their creation and give them five minutes between rounds to make changes to their design or launch angle to see if they can improve their distance. Alternatively, assign various targets around your classroom a particular point value, and have students launch their rockets at these targets to see how many points they can score.
What are we learning?
In this activity, students learn how rockets follow a certain trajectory, or flight path based on the degree from which they are launched. By experimenting with the launch angle, students will be able to predict where their rockets will land.
This STEM activity was inspired by National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductee George Alcorn, inventor of the Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer – a device that has been used with space telescopes and satellites to search for new planets and collect data.