Model Rocket – Experiment

Building and launching a model rocket using materials you already have at home is a great way to explore the principles of rocketry and physics.

Materials Needed:

  • Plastic bottle (for the rocket body)
  • Cardboard (for the fins)
  • Tape
  • Paper (for the nose cone)
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Tissue or paper towel
  • Cork (that fits snugly into the bottle opening)
  • Safety goggles

Steps to build the model rocket:

  • Use a plastic bottle as the main body of your rocket.
  • Cut out three or four fins from cardboard and attach them to the bottom of the bottle with tape to help stabilize the rocket during flight.
  • Create a nose cone from paper by rolling it into a cone shape, securing it with tape, and attaching it to the top of the bottle to reduce air resistance.
  • Pour vinegar into the bottle using a funnel until it is about one-third full.
  • Wrap baking soda in a small tissue or paper towel as a time-release mechanism.
  • Insert the baking soda packet into the bottle and quickly cork it.
  • Place the rocket upright on a flat surface and step back.
  • The reaction between vinegar and baking soda will produce carbon dioxide gas, building up pressure until the cork is forced out, propelling the rocket into the air.


Science Behind Rocketry

Thrust and Newton’s Third Law of Motion: When baking soda and vinegar mix, they produce carbon dioxide gas, which builds up pressure inside the bottle. 

According to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. The gas pushing out of the bottle creates thrust, which pushes the rocket upward.

Stability: The fins help keep the rocket stable and fly straight by minimizing wobbling during flight. 

Aerodynamics: The nose cone reduces air resistance, allowing the rocket to travel more smoothly through the air.

Upright Launch: The rocket must be upright for launch so it goes straight into the air. If it’s tilted, the gas will push it sideways, making it fly unpredictably and possibly unsafe.


Fun Facts

Here are some interesting facts about rockets:

  • Rockets can travel in space at speeds exceeding 25,000 miles per hour  
  • The first human-made object to reach outer space was the German V-2 rocket in 1944.
  • Rockets work in space where there is no air because they carry their own oxygen for fuel combustion.



Let’s quickly recap what we learned about building rockets:

  • What is the force that pushes the rocket upwards? Thrust
  • How do the fins help during flight? Provide Stability
  • Which part of the rocket helps reduce air resistance? Nose Cone
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