Today we are making a rocket! OK, it is a tea bag rocket so we might not get all the way to the moon! Making a rocket was really fun for my kids and we all learned more about rocket science at the same time in a very approachable way.  Use this tea bag rocket experiment at home or in the classroom. NOTE: This science activity involves fire so adult supervision is required.

Tea Bag Rocket - Kids Activities Blog - tea bag cylinder upright on a elevated surface on table lit on fire
Let’s Make a Tea Bag Rocket!

Make a Tea Bag Rocket – Science Experiment

Let’s make a rocket today out of a tea bag. This simple step science experiment for kids is great for bringing up interesting science concepts and starting some thoughtful conversations.

Related: Scientific method for kids worksheet

This combustion and chemical reaction activity will show how combustion requires fuel, oxygen and heat. As the tea bag burns, the air inside heats up and rises creating a convection current. Let’s harness our children’s curiosity and explore the science of the physical world.

Supplies Needed to Make a Tea Bag Rocket

Supplies needed to make a tea bag rocket: plate, tea bag, lighter/matches , scissors, bowl on a table - Kids Activities Blog
This is what you will need to make a tea bag rocket
  • a tea bag
  • scissors
  • bowl {optional}
  • plate
  • match or lighter

Directions for Tea Bag Rocket Experiment

Steps 1-4: How to make a tea bag rocket - cut the tea bag, make a cylinder and then set on a plate
This is how to prepare your tea bag for this experiment

Step 1 – Prepare the TEa Bag for Experiment

Using scissors, cut the top of the tea bag off.  Open up the tea bag.  Empty the loose tea into the bowl or simply empty it into the trash can because you don’t need the tea leaves at all.

Step 2 – Set up the Tea Bag Cylinder

Once the tea bag is a clean cylinder, stand it up on the plate.  

Note: We found it impossible to do this experiment outside because even the slightest breeze blew the cylinder over on its side and the experiment doesn’t work if the cylinder isn’t upright.

Step 3 – Light the Fire

Text: Easy Rocket Science for Kids: Make a Rocket with a Tea Bag - tea bag rocket on fire sitting on a plate on a table - Kids Activities Blog
Light Your Tea Bag Rocket!

Next is the exciting part.  Using a lighter or matches, light the top of the tea bag on fire.  It will burn rather quickly in a controlled manner.

Step 4 – Watch the Tea Bag Rise

Step 4 - Child watching how the burning tea bag rises as it burns
Watch Your Tea Bag Rise Magically?

As the tea bag gets consumed by the fire, it will gently rise up into the air and then simple extinguish itself.

HOmemade Rocket Science

Stages of Tea Bag Rocket rising - four panels: almost burned to the bottom of the tea bag, gentle lift off of burning tea bag, tea bag burning a foot above table and tea bag several feet above table
Watch that Rocket Rise!

How does this work?

The fire creates hot air within the tea bag cylinder.  Hot air rises and thrusts the bag into the air. The tea bag then is fully consumed by fire in the air and puts the fire out.

Our easy homemade rocket was gentle and quiet!

I struggled with trying to capture our rocket in pictures so here is a quick video that I hope demonstrates its coolness a little better.

Tea Bag Rocket Video

Lessons from Tea Bag Rocket Experiment

  1. Combustion and Chemical Reactions: The burning of the tea bag involves combustion, a type of chemical reaction between a fuel (in this case, the material of the tea bag) and an oxidant (oxygen in the air) that produces heat and light. Kids learn about the requirements for combustion to occur (fuel, oxygen, and heat) and the products of combustion (e.g., carbon dioxide, water vapor, ash).
  2. Convection Currents: As the tea bag burns, the air inside the cylinder made of tea bag mesh heats up and rises, creating a convection current. This demonstrates how heat transfer occurs through fluids (gases and liquids) and how it drives many natural phenomena, such as wind and ocean currents.
  3. Density and Buoyancy: The tea bag rocket experiment visually demonstrates the principle of buoyancy. The heated air inside the tea bag is less dense than the cooler air surrounding it, which makes the tea bag (or what’s left of it) lift off the ground. This ties into broader discussions on density and how it affects whether objects float or sink in various mediums.
  4. Properties of Air and Gases: This science activity can lead to discussions about the properties of gases, including air. Kids can explore how air expands when heated, which is crucial for understanding the experiment’s outcome and many other scientific and real-world phenomena.
  5. Scientific Method and Inquiry: Engaging in the tea bag rocket experiment allows students to practice the scientific method. They can hypothesize what will happen and why, conduct the experiment, observe the results, and draw conclusions.
  6. Safety and Responsibility in Science Experiments: The tea bag rocket experiment involves an open flame, teaching students the importance of safety precautions in conducting scientific experiments. This includes understanding and respecting the dangers of fire, learning to control experimental conditions, and knowing how to respond in case of an accident and listening to the adult(s) who are supervising as a necessity.
  7. Engagement and Curiosity: Beyond the core scientific concepts, this experiment is designed to spark interest and curiosity about science and the physical world. It encourages students to ask questions, explore further, and see science as a dynamic and exciting field.

More Science Experiments from Kids activities Blog

Making a tea bag rocket is a simple way to make a rocket for kids.  It makes for an easy introduction to rocket science while being exciting and fun at the same time.  Here are some more ideas you might want to explore:

How did your tea bag rocket turn out? Did you have a firey life-off?

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  1. We did this today and it was so cool. Okay, we actually did it about 5 times and videod it to show others :). Thanks!

  2. We just did this with a cheap brand called “Best Choice” and it worked. They were the small tea bags. I did notice that they need to be in a cylinder shape completely and not bent in some parts. We did our on the kitchen counter. Our 3 kids each had one and we lit them and they raced their rockets!

  3. This was disappointing. Don’t bother. It doesn’t work. We tried with all different teabags about 50 times. 🙁 Wonder what the secret is?