Doesn’t every kid want to be an astronaut?
My kids are fascinated by all things outer space (even if it doesn’t directly relate to Star Wars). The last shuttle launch was a much anticipated event at my house.
Today we are bringing NASA into our backyard through the magic of fishing line, straws and balloons. It is just like Apollo 13 only without the danger.
Grab some things from your kitchen junk drawer and build a balloon rocket with us!
This two-stage rocket is from the book Totally Irresponsible Science by Sean Connolly.
Balloon Rocket Instructions
Rocket building materials:
- drinking straw cut into 1 inch pieces
- fishing line
- two trees or something in your backyard to anchor the fishing line 100 feet apart
- plastic bottle
- two long balloons
String your fishing line between two objects in your backyard 80 to 100 feet apart. Before you attach the second end, thread the fishing line through two of the straw pieces so they can slide on the line.
Next get your balloons.
Note: Please learn from my mistake. When I went to the store for long balloons I bought the ones that are for making balloon animals. When I got home I realized that those are impossible to blow up without a pump of some sort. So, from here on out, I am showing you how to do this with round balloons which won't be nearly as effective as traditional long balloons or inflated balloon animal ones!
Blow up one balloon and then hold it in the ring not letting the air escape while you put a second balloon in place. If done with the right balloons and better coordination, the second can be positioned so that it stops the air escape from the first.
The second balloon propels the rocket forward and then as it gets smaller, the first balloon takes over.
On the subsequent launches, I used just one balloon because it was easier to set up and I had very enthusiastic astronauts.
Why the Balloon Rocket works
Why does this happen? For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This principle observed by Newton, lies at the heart of rocket (in this case, balloon rocket) science.
Printable instructions for this balloon rocket experiment.
May the force be with you.