Independence Day is over and the last of the fireworks have been ignited, but your kids still have questions, namely what makes rockets shoot into the air? Instead of pulling up a page on a search engine, get outside and build a tiny rocket with them instead. Here is a project that illustrates the basics of propulsion using common items. While it is generally pretty safe, there is just enough of a whiff of danger to keep kids interested.
This is one of those cool experiments where kids won't even realize they are learning something because they are too busy having fun. Steve Hoefer of Grathio Labs learned how to make these as a kid and it is obvious he still finds them a blast. Using matches, a pin, some aluminum foil and a paper clip, he makes tiny rockets that provide a vivid example of what can happen when an expanding gas is trapped and channeled. There is a complete tutorial on his site, but there is also a short video of the rockets in action which is fun to watch.
Hoefer even provides a free downloadable pattern which will allow you to create your own match rocket factory.
Of course, this activity involves fire so should only be done with adult supervision. And be sure to read the comments under the video for some suggestions on how to tweak the basic design.
• See more: Grathio Labs