Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Straw Rockets - shoot for the moon

I tried to think of a fun game to get the kids to shoot at things besides people for our Rocket Science Day in the park.

I came up with cutting up a few sides of a cardboard box to make the moon, Mars, Jupiter, and some stars. I then hung them from the tree at the park (with the help of my taller husband - it still sucks being 5'2.5" most of the time).  I think it turned out cute.

I had the idea that kids would stand behind a cone (distance depending on their age) and shoot for the celestial bodies.  I arbitrarily assigned each object a couple of points.  The moon = 10 pts, Mars = 30 pts, Jupiter = 40 pts, and the stars = 50 pts each.  If the kids reached 50 pts, they got a small prize.

Straw rockets are made similarly to our homemade rockets (insert link), except that you wrap the paper around a pencil instead of a 1/2" PVC pipe:

1. Roll up part of a piece of paper on a pencil. Tape the paper to itself (not the pencil). 

2. Place tube on straw and blow.
3. What happened? Nothing. Why? You need to close off the tube so the air from your mouth going through the straw has something to press against.
4. Tape off the top of your straw rocket. Shapes to try: flat/rectangle, cone/triangular. You might even try to tape a second piece of paper onto your straw rocket for a proper nose cone.
5. Place rocket on your straw and blow as hard as you can. Did your rocket fly off?
6. Is your rocket missing anything that could help it fly?
7. Try giving your rocket wings. Does that improve the flight of your rocket? Why/whynot?

Troubleshooting your rockets (this is also helpful for homemade stomp rockets):

  • Is your rocket too heavy or light? Add or remove paper material as you see fit (ie. wrap paper more or less times around the pencil/pipe). 
  • Your rocket doesn’t launch or go far. Check to make sure your rocket is well sealed with tape. If air escapes, you are losing valuable fuel. 
  • Your rocket doesn't fly straight. Add wings and fins. If one design doesn’t work, try another shape/design. 
  • Your rocket is boring. Decorate it!

**These rockets are still showing that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

***Note that our friend shooting the moon is blowing on his stomp rocket through an extra PVC pipe.  This made a better straw rocket than a regular straw.

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