Launch Your Own Homemade Rocket!

Here is a super STEM activity submitted to us a few years ago by the Canadian Space Agency. It was so much fun we thought it might be worth re-publishing. You can try this at home – especially with the weather  starting to improve!

You will need:

  • Empty plastic 35-mm film canister and lid
  • Antacid tablet, split in half
  • Water
  • Paper
  • Coloured pencils
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape
  • Safety goggles

Note: For better results, the film canister must be one with a lid that fits inside the rim instead of over the outside rim. Transparent canisters also work better than opaque ones.

How to build your rocket:

  1. Place your film canister on a table; make sure the lid end of the canister is down.
  2. Decorate a piece of paper that will serve as the body of your rocket.
  3. Wrap and tape that piece of paper around the film canister.
  4. For the nose of your rocket, draw a circle onto another sheet of paper and cut it out.
  5. Roll your paper circle so that it forms into a cone and tape it to the top of your rocket.

How to launch your rocket:

  1. Put on your safety goggles and tell people to stand back.
  2. Turn your rocket upside down and fill the film canister one-third full of water. Now work quickly on the next steps!
  3. Drop in half of the antacid tablet. Put the lid on tight.
  4. Stand the rocket on the floor lid side down.
  5. Stand back at least 2 metres and watch!

Caution: This activity can be messy. It is recommended to do it outside or to prepare a paper towel to clean up afterwards. Also, please be careful when launching the rocket by wearing safety goggles, standing back and not pointing it at anyone.

How it works:

When you add water to an antacid tablet, it creates a gas called carbon dioxide. Because the gas is released in an enclosed space, it builds pressure inside the canister until there is enough force to pop the seal of the lid and propel the rocket upwards. The same principle of thrust is used with real rockets by using rocket fuel.

Learn more about STEM Camp here.

This experiment was originally published with permission of the Canadian Space Agency: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/activities/fun-experiments/rocket.asp.



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