Education

Soda-Straw Rocket Activity Soars
05.11.10
 
JPL's Jojo Aguilar shows how to launch a soda-straw rocketJPL's Jojo Aguilar shows how to launch a soda-straw rocket. Image credit: NASA/JPL
More views on how to make rocket

This activity teaches the following National Education Standards:
Science:
A: Scientific inquiry
B: Motions and forces
E: Technological design

Math:
Measurement
Patterns and functions

Technology:
NT.K-12.3 Technology productivity tools
by Jojo Aguilar

Jojo Aguilar is an education outreach specialist in the NASA/JPL Education Office.

The "Soda-Straw Rocket Activity" is my favorite project to share with educators and students of all ages. This experiment allows classrooms to study rocket stability as students construct and fly small "indoor" paper rockets. The goal of this exercise is for students to conduct an experiment, analyze the data and interpret the results. And who doesn't love rockets?

From start to finish, this activity takes less than 30 minutes.

Materials Needed
Rocket template (download here)
Sharpened pencil
Scissors
Tape
Soda straw

To create your rocket, download and print the soda-straw rocket template from: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/jpl/pdf/414585main_rockettemplate-web.pdf .

Once completed, you will have a nice little rocket that stands just over five inches tall. Now, insert a soda straw into your rocket and blow into the straw. Record your rocket's length and how far it travels using the template's data log. Next, make rockets of different lengths to see how that affects the results. (Vary the length by cutting the tube that forms the rocket.)

Classroom tips:

-- When students are done recording data, see if they can use their findings to reach objects, such as a classroom globe.
-- Students should work in groups of four to six and build rockets of different sizes. They can share data and discuss how rocket length affects distance.
-- Let students personalize their rockets by coloring or drawing on them.
-- Students can experiment and improve on their current design or design entirely new rockets for better space travel.
-- Have fun!