Pop Rockets! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.......

So I've been trying various things with Jasper since school started for his sister and some have worked great (smashing playdough, for one) while others, well, not so much (anything drawing-related). With this one I've really hit it. I have one word.


Seriously, it seems like boys are generally very transportation-oriented, and rockets seem to be the pinnacle of interest for my guy. Combine that with the hands-on science aspect of this project and I really found a winner! (I should say that everyone loved this--both Josie and Daddio joined in at launch-time).

  • paper towel tube
  • file folder (or light cardboard such as a cereal box)
  • glue stick
  • stapler
  • scissors or craft knife
  • empty film canister (the one with the lid that fits inside worked slightly better than the traditional type that's black with a grey lid--I asked for one in the Target photo department)
  • alka-seltzer
  • water

1 - Cut a 3" circle out of your file folder and cut a slit to the center.

2 - Cut four triangular fins out of the file folder, each about 2" high (see the one in the picture, above?). Snip about 1/2 inch off the top of your triangle, then fold in about 1/2 inch. Make two snips in to your fold line to create three tabs. Fold them in opposite directions.

3 - Snip one end of your paper towel tube into little tabs, about 1/2 inch square. Mash them in a bit with your hand to round the end.

4 - Roll your circle into a cone shape, then glue and staple to hold it. (this is apparently where I stopped taking pictures, go figure!)

5 - Apply plenty of glue stick to the mashed-in end of your paper towel tube and stick the cone onto it. Hold for about two minutes while the glue sets.

6 - Glue fins on around the bottom.

7 - Stick your film canister up inside the base of your rocket (inside the paper towel tube; it should fit exactly), with the open end facing out. Hold on to the lid!

8 - Add 1-2 Alka Seltzer tablets, pour in a bit of water, put the cap back on (quickly!), set it on the ground pointing skyward (hustle, hustle!) and stand way back and wait for blastoff. Don't forget your binoculars!

Our rocket popped up by a couple of feet on our best attempt (two tablets, fill about 2/3 full of water), perhaps not nearly as impressive as Jasper was imagining (orbit?), but it was such a fun project. We talked a bit about what was happening inside the film canister as the Alka-Seltzer reacted, and as the kids get older it will be fun to experiment more and collect data about what works better (1 tablet or two? More water or less?). Definitely a boycraft success!

So what are your boys into these days? Are they the transportation-rocket-blastoff type, or does something else get them fired up?
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