Paper Rocket Science Experiment

Make a colourful nose cone and rocket, and watch it fly!

You will need:

  • Small piece of paper, roughly A6
  • Felt tip pens or colouring pencils
  • Selotape
  • Cocktail stick
  • Blutack
  • Straw
  • Scissors

Method:

  • Draw a semi-circle on your piece of paper. You can use a mug or glass as a template or draw freehand.

       

  • Colour your semi-circle in. Be as creative as you like! This will form the nose cone of your rocket. The curved edge will be the bottom edge of the nose cone, and the straight edge will fold in half and come together, if you want to draw your design accordingly. But actually, anything bright and fun will do!
  • Cut out your semi-circle and bend in half, without folding it. Pinch the half way point, then open our your semi circle again.

       

  • With the pinched part making the tip of the nose cone, bring both halves of the straight edge together, overlap slightly and selotape together to create a cone shape.
  • Place a small ball of Blutack inside the tip of the cone, and stick the cocktail stick into this.
  • Carefully pick up the nose cone and insert the cocktail stick into the straw. The straw will form the body of your rocket.

  • Holding the rocket pointing upwards, blow into the other end of the straw as hard as you can, and watch your rocket fly!
 

The Science Bit

Rockets will travel faster if they can cut through air efficiently. To do this they need to be pointy! The pointed end will cut through the air molecules reducing a force we call ‘air resistance’, which slows rockets down. Try making a cylinder to see whether this will fly! The blunt edge will push against the air, slowing down quickly. Rockets also need power, which in this case is air from your breath. Increased power will mean increased speed at lift-off, but without a nice, pointy nose cone, your rocket will still slow down quickly.

Things to try:

Make an identical-sized nose cone, but fold the cone fatter or thinner. Does this fly better or worse than your original? Try using different weights of paper, such as tissue paper, tracing paper or thin card. You could even try thin plastic. Does this make a difference to the flight of your rocket? What happens if you make a really big or really small rocket? How can you give it more power? Does a balloon pump or bike pump help?  

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