Many children dream of going into space and riding in a spaceship, but the power horse behind such a trip is a rocket, according to the Lunar and Planetary Institute. All rockets have certain parts, including a nose cone, body tube, engine, fins, payload and parachute. While some kids may never be able to see a real rocket take off in person, you can help them construct one that illustrates how rockets work.
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With this craft, your children can have fun alternating variables, such as the size and shape of their rockets, to see what makes their rockets travel greater distances. Cut a piece of paper 1 1/2 inches by 11 inches, and have children begin wrapping it around a pencil, starting at the metal under the eraser and wrapping it around down and diagonally. When they're done, tape the paper in three places (to hold it together when you pull out the pencil), and remove the pencil. Cut off the ends so that they're flat, and then cut out fins for your rocket. Have children fold the upper end of the rocket over about 1/2 inch down, and tape the fins down by the open end of the rocket. Insert a straw into the bottom, and blow through the straw to launch the rocket.
These rockets provide an opportunity for children to get messy, which is always a hit, while still being educational. Cut through a toilet paper roll, lengthwise (you will have a rectangle). Tape a film container (35mm film) to the inside of one of the short edges of the toilet paper roll so that the top of the film container sticks out about 1/8 of an inch. Wrap the toilet paper roll tightly around the film container so your toilet paper roll is now skinny, and tape it in place. Cut out a 2-inch circle from construction paper, and then cut a triangular wedge (like a pie slice) out the circle. Roll the circle into a cone shape, and tape it to the other end of the toilet paper roll. If you want, have children cut out four squares to tape on the bottom of their rocket as fins. Have children put on protective eyewear. In an open area, such as outdoors, have children turn their rockets upside down, add water to the film canister, about 1/4 full. Drop in a seltzer tablet, snap on the film container lid, place the rocket on the ground and stay back. Watch their rockets explode into the air. Vary the size of the cone and amount of seltzer, and be sure to have children record results to see which alterations result in greater launches.
Your children can construct a rocket and even use it to transport paper clips and have fun estimating how much weight their rockets can carry. Stretch some finishing line as high up as you can between two walls, attaching to only one wall for now. Instruct children to blow up a long balloon and clasp it with a clothespin (so that you can let the air out to launch the rockets). Guide children in taping a foam cup to the balloon (as a carrier), and brainstorm about various areas to tape the cup as you experiment with the balloon rocket. Tape a straw, lengthwise, to the balloon, and thread the fishing line through the straw. Attach the fishing line to the opposite wall. Tell students to remove the clothespin, and their rockets will launch. They should mark how far the rocket goes on the fishing line each time they launch their rockets. Add different objects, such as paper clips, to the cups to vary the weight.
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