Paper Rocket Aerodynamics
Make paper rockets you can launch by blowing through a straw and experiment to find out how changing the design can change how the rockets fly with this family STEM activity.
Making a paper rocket that you can launch by blowing through a straw is an easy hands-on activity sure to engage paper airplane folders and rocket enthusiasts alike. You can easily turn this paper-based pastime into a STEM activity by exploring the design of the paper rocket. What challenges does a straw-blown paper rocket have as it flies through the air? How can modifications to the design of the rocket help stabilize the rocket or help it fly farther?
The same crowd that enjoys comparing different paper airplane designs or turning the physics of launching balls with the Ping Pong Catapult into a target-oriented game will be quick to grasp the ways that exploring the science involved in the design of a paper rocket can influence how well and how far it flies. On the ground, we can see how design elements can be added to a product to increase stability. Why is a tricycle easier to balance than a bicycle, for example? With this week's family science project, a fun home activity gets a boost of STEM as family's make different paper rockets and test to see whether or not design elements like fins make a difference.
To do this activity with your family or students, see Build a Paper Rocket at Scientific American.
If you and your students enjoy this science activity, you may also be interested in the following projects and activities from Science Buddies:
- Do Submarines Need Fins?
- Bottled-up Buoyancy
- Rocking the Boat
- Milk Does Your Body and a Boat Good—Design Your Own Milk Carton Boat
- The Wright Stuff: Using Kites to Study Aerodynamics
- How Far Will It Fly? Build & Test Paper Planes with Different Drag
- Why Winglets?
- How Tails Help a Kite to Fly
- Paper Airplanes: Why Flaps and Folds Matter
More Rocket Power
To extend your exploration of rockets and the aerodynamics and physics of flight and have fun with some really high-flying rockets, take a look at these projects, both of which use the Bottle Rocket Kit from the Science Buddies Store: