Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday afternoon science: Bottle rocket!

Sometimes it's nice to do the fun things when Dad's home.

On Saturday, Scott and the boys got out the baking soda and vinegar "Meteor Rocket" kit my grandmother gave them for Christmas. He helped them cut out the balsa wood aft fins and attach them to the liter bottle in the kit, which also included a nose cone, a fuel tube, and a screw-in plug.

Yesterday, even Papa was around to join in for the trip to the park launching pad.

They measured out the baking soda into the tube, carefully poured in the vinegar into the bottle, inserted the tube, gave it a quick shake, and...

Nothing happened. Well, not exactly nothing. The mixture fizzed a bit, and we got the attention of all the kids in the park.

Rinse and repeat.

Still no lift-off -- and then my camera battery died. By take 3, I remembered I had my iPhone in my pocket!


A few seconds after it was set on the ground, the rocket shot about 20 feet into the air, then fell back only a foot away from the launch site.

HOORAY!!!  The crowd was ecstatic!

Take 4 shot sideways because it tipped over when Scott set it down. Take 5 was a dud. Take 6 was in the air again. And then the photographer had to go home to make dinner.
This is a good explanation of what happens between the vinegar and baking soda to make the bottle rocket fly.

You don't have to have a kit; there are lots of homemade bottle rockets online. This one is very similar to ours. You can also do mix the two reactive ingredients in a film canister, if you're able to find one. The small size of the canister makes for a much higher launch.

Another version of the bottle rocket uses water and a bicycle pump. A more dangerous version uses a small amount of rubbing alcohol and a match at the end of a 2-liter bottle. Scott tried that one a while back, but no luck.

Have you done this before? Let me know if you decide to try it!


Phyllis said...

How exciting! The only rockets we have done were regular model rockets with igniters and all that. Bottle rockets sound like something my two youngest at least would like.

Sara said...

Woo-hoo! Happened upon a similar rocket kit today at Joann's while there looking for other things. It was the only one left, and on clearance half-off, so I snagged it up. Lauren will be pleased. : )

Melissa said...

Sean said...

We did this last year on a field trip

Sean said...

We did something like this last year on a field trip

Rodney said...

Way to go Dad! doesn't matter how high it went was the time spent with the kids and the fun of it all and lessons taught through the whole process. Very cool, I think I have to try that! :)

Anyways, my wifes name is Annette (pastors wife)and she just opened her blog to public setting as she wants to be an encouragement and blessing to people. I was trying to be an encouragement to her by asking if you would be willing to swing by and say hi as she does not know many people in the blog world? Thank you for considering. Her blog is

Thank You,
Rodney(Annette's husband)

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