Kool Aid Squeeze Rocket Launcher
Have a blast by turning a bottle and straws into a rocket launcher
It's easy to turn a juice bottle into a rocket launcher. How? Grab a few straws of different sizes, some modeling clay, and an empty juice bottle to make a launcher that will send the straw rocket soaring across the room. Don't worry, you aren't just playing. You'll learn something about Newton's Third Law of Motion at the same time.
- Kool-Aid Burst juice bottle or other flexible plastic bottle
- Modeling clay (Playdough may work, also)
- 2 straws - one large and one small. The larger diameter straw must be able to slip over the smaller straw. The large and small straws from Starbucks® work great.
- Safety glasses
- As everyone knows, science is much more fun and productive when conducted on a sugar high. So to start this experiment guzzle down the Kool Aid from your bottle. If you are making more than one launcher, drink those, too!
- Avoid making a sticky, rocket launcher mess! Rinse and dry your bottles before you move on.
- Push the smaller straw into the opening of the bottle. The straw should fit snugly in the hole at the top of the bottle. Use modeling clay to seal any possible leaks between the straw and the hole in the bottle. The clay will also make the straw more stable and less likely to wobble.
- Push one end of the bigger straw into another piece of modeling clay. This "plug" will seal the end of the straw. Cover the plugged end with something soft like a Styrofoam packing peanut to keep the straw rocket from hurting anyone in case they accidentally get hit.
- It's time to launch... Place the larger straw over the smaller straw. Ready, aim... wait! Take a look around. Is everyone paying attention? If they aren't watching with Cape Canaveral-like anticipation, make sure they know what is about to take place.
- Now that everyone is aware of your rocket launching intentions, start the countdown. 3, 2, 1... give your bottle a giant squeeze and... blast off! The larger straw launches off the smaller straw and the room erupts in a chorus of oohs & ahhhs!
How does it work?
While you're having fun launching straws, you're actually learning about Newton's Third Law of Motion. According to Newton, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As you squeeze the bottle, air is forced out of the straw and pushes against the clay plug in the larger straw. The resulting force causes the straw to "launch" through the air. Pretty simple, right? The power of air is amazing to witness.
Be careful! Never point the straw rocket at anyone. The goal here is to launch the rocket up in the air (not at someone). Be sure to cover the plugged end of the straw with something soft and round to protect someone from accidentally getting hurt by a sharp edge. Be creative! Once you've mastered the simple straw rocket, challenge your friends to a straw rocket design contest. Add a nose cone, some fins, a few decorations, and don't forget to name your straw rocket!
Kool-Aid Squeeze Rocket Launcher
April 11th, 2012
Click the thumbnail below to see the video.
Regina Wolff - April 18, 2013
The Kool Aid bottles must be made more cheaply these days. I planned on making these with 4H Science Project that I am teaching but they didn't work-air leaked from the seam areas of the bottles and we couldn't ever get them to work
Sandra Taylor - April 26, 2012
I did this experiment with all 3 of my science classes. I am sure Walmart thought I was crazy buying 17 six packs of kool aid drinks. The kids were so excited. We made contests using these rockets. We tested who could shoot it higher, longer (shooting from the front and seeing how far across it would go) and then they tried to shoot it up and catch the straw on the way down! Force and motion, angles, speed and pressure were all reviewed using this great experiment. Thanks for the great idea!
Simple and Fun
Vanessa - April 20, 2012
This experiment was a blast! A little advise, when my class and I were launching the rockets, the playdough from the straw was shooting out. If you place a small piece of tape over the top of the straw (with the playdough still as the stopper), it eliminates this from happening! Definitely a lot of fun!
jackie - April 12, 2012
Simple, recyclable, inexpensive. Brings up lots of science. Since safety glasses are advised you may want to advise that the straw is a projectile and you should aim away from anyone. Really this is meant for outside or a gym.