How to Make a Model Rocket for Kids
Antacid tablets are not just for helping alleviate heartburn anymore. Now they can be used as the fuel for a kid-safe rocket. Bubble rockets are a simple, effective way to teach children about rocket power and the physics principles of action and reaction. Unlike other types of rockets, this craft requires no fire or electrical power, making it a kid-friendly activity -- no worrying about burning down the house with this project.
Things You'll Need
- Jar lid
- 35 mm film canister
- Clear tape
- Safety goggles
- Fizzing antacid tablets
Trace a circle on a piece of paper using the jar lid to make the nose cone for the rocket. Trace out several triangle shapes to form the rocket’s fins. Cut out the pieces of the rocket’s body from the paper. Use the remaining paper to wrap the rocket.
Wrap a tube of paper around a film canister. Tape the canister to the end of the paper before beginning to wrap the canister. Be sure the film canister’s lid is facing down when the canister is fully wrapped.
Tape fins to the body of the rocket. Cut a wedge in the circle and bend it into a cone shape. Attach the cone to the top of the rocket to make a nose.
Put on safety goggles for the next two steps. Turn the rocket upside down and fill the film canister 1/3-full with water. Drop 1/2 antacid tablet into the film canister and snap on the lid, quickly.
Place the rocket standing up on the ground outside and stand back at least 5 feet immediately. Watch as the antacid tablet reacts with the water, causing the rocket to lift into the air.
- Use film canisters where the plastic lid fits inside the container opening, rather than over it. NASA recommends contacting local photography shops for donations of leftover film canisters. Help your child to make rockets with varying sizes of nose cones and body fins. Different types of rockets will fly differently, allowing your young scientist to compare and contrast the science behind rocket launches.
- This activity should only be conducted under the supervision of an adult, and the experiment portion should take place outside. Do not exceed the 1/3-water recommendation in the canister because a larger amount will provide less space for the carbon dioxide created by the antacid to expand, thus creating a bigger liftoff. Always wear safety goggles and move at least 5 feet away from the canister once you've sealed it with the antacid inside.
- NASA: Build a Bubble-Powered Rocket
- The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book; Tom Robinson