Engineering for kids is a passion around here. Our oldest son is always tinkering, taping, creating and maneuvering things to figure them out. One of his absolute favorite things to tinker with is anything that flies. This week we are excited to share this awesome activity to encourage engineering for kids. This simple DIY soda rocket is out of this world.
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Engineering for Kids | DIY Soda Rockets
Setting up the Experiment
As with almost all of our projects, we use child led practices to create and experiment. This means that I usually don’t give the children a set of instructions to try and replicate, but instead ask guiding questions and am there just to support their ideas. For this experiment, we talked a lot about things that fly and researched ways to make items fly. We did a big study of potential and kinetic energy and with force and motion.
After studying these for some time, the boys decided on the following items for their rockets.
Rubber Cork (we used a #4)
Creating DIY Soda Rockets
This was probably one of the most exciting parts of the project. I love watching little brains think and problem solve. Without a given set of instructions, the boys needed to design a rocket that would not only look cool, but also could fly!
The first thing they did was trace the water bottle they planned to fit inside the styrofoam cone. With my help, we then cut and dug out a hole to put the bottle in for the end of the project. If you are making these ahead for children, I would suggest doing this step before the children are there.
Next, they decided they needed to cut out a space to put the wings of the rocket. With adult supervision, they used a box cutter to make 3 slots at the bottom of the cone.
The wings were a little trickier. At first they tried making just triangles but learned that they wouldn’t sit flat on the ground that way. Using scrap paper, they tested and tried about 3 designs before they came up with the design they ended up with. They used this design to trace and cut out foam board for 3 wings.
Finally, it was time to decorate the rockets. If it were up to me, we definitely would have painted. In fact, I was looking forward to it! However, the boys really wanted to use Duct tape and, honestly, it turned out so cool this way. I love watching little brains work and create!
Conducting the Experiment | Launching the Soda Rockets
Ready for Blast Off!
Finally, the rockets were ready! Each boy had a rocket, and my oldest even had 2 (I told you he loves anything and everything rockets). Aside from it being -10 degrees, we were ready for the perfect launch day.
Once again, I did not tell the boys what they should do for the chemical reaction, but we play and explore fizzing and reactions so much that they are pretty familiar with the cause and effects of many combinations. They tried water and alka-seltzer but nothing happened from them. They decided the bottles were too big and the rockets were too heavy.
So they turned to the classic baking soda and vinegar reactions. They poured vinegar in the rocket, and placed baking soda on 1 square of tissue paper. They wrapped the baking soda in the tissue (so the reaction would be slowed). When everyone was in a safe position, they pushed the tissue into the bottle and corked the bottle. Then, they quickly turned the bottle over and waited for the launch.
When we did this experiment this summer, the rockets blasted to the neighbors yard, so we know it works. However, it was -10 this day and it was extremely hard to work in those temperatures. The rockets definitely “flew” but not a great distance. We can’t wait to try this again when it is warmer and we will add in more images and even a fun video. For now, this is all I have 🙂
I am excited to be taking part in a month long series focused on STEAM activities for kids! I am honored to be joining some of my favorite blogs that encourage critical thinking and problem solving in young children. This month all of our projects have the theme of “FLY”.
Hot air balloons
More Adventures in Engineering
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