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How to Build a Bottle Rocket

How to Build a Bottle Rocket

Total Time Needed: 1-2 Hours

This air-powered rocket may be light, but it's no lightweight: it flies impressively far, fast, and high. Ours flew more than 50 feet — right onto the neighbor's roof! Place your launcher far from any obstacles, and never aim it at anyone.

Materials

  • Scissors
  • Plastic report covers (found in office-supply stores)
  • Electrical tape
  • 4-foot length of 1/2-inch interior-diameter PVC pipe,* cut into:
    • 3 (12-inch) lengths
    • 1 (10-inch) length
    • 1 (2-inch) length
  • 4- by 1-1/2-inch piece of craft foam
  • 1/2-inch interior diameter PVC pipe fittings, slip style:
    • 2 caps
    • 1 cross
    • 1 45-degree elbow
  • Plastic wrap
  • 2-liter plastic soda bottle

Instructions

How to Build a Bottle Rocket - Step 1

For each rocket, cut one 9- by 5-inch piece and two 2- by 4-inch pieces from the plastic report covers. Place a strip of electrical tape so that it overhangs the longer edge of the large rectangle. Roll this rectangle around a length of PVC pipe, sealing it with the strip of tape, as shown. Slide the tube off the pipe.

How to Build a Bottle Rocket - Step 2

Flatten one end of the tube and round the tip with a pair of scissors. Seal this end with tape.

How to Build a Bottle Rocket - Step 3

Cut the two smaller cover pieces in half diagonally so that you have four triangular fins (we used only three). Tape both sides of the fins to the tube. Tape the piece of craft foam loosely over the tip of the rocket, as shown.

How to Build a Bottle Rocket - Step 4

Now, make the launcher. Put a cap on one end of two of the 12-inch pieces. Seal the other ends of these pieces with a double layer of plastic wrap. Insert the wrapped ends into the cross, fitting directly across from each other.

How to Build a Bottle Rocket - Step 5

Slide the third 12-inch piece and the 2-inch piece into the cross. Add the elbow fitting and the 10-inch piece to the end of the 2-inch length. Slide the mouth of the bottle onto the end of the uncapped 12-inch piece and secure it in place with tape.

3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Blastoff! To send your rocket soaring, slide it onto the end of the launcher, then stomp on the bottle. Blow into the end of the launcher to reinflate the bottle. If the bottle cracks after repeated use, simply untape it and replace it.

Notes:

PVC is easily cut with a handsaw. Smooth any rough edges with a file.

Safety note: Even with its craft-foam bumper, the rocket can cause serious injury, so it should be used only with adult supervision.

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