There is not a day in the world that a child does not look up into the expanse of blue sky and imagine himself becoming its master. The child will construct drawings of himself saddled on a rocket, zooming to the heavens like an adventurer unlocking the mysteries of the clouds. As an adult, the idea of building such a thing becomes an outlandish suggestion, like cold fusion and pocket moonbeams and four leaf clovers made of diamonds. The adult world believes rockets are for rocket scientists, but the truth is you don’t have to be one to build a rocket. Just a handful of materials and a childlike sense of wonder.
A homemade rocket can be constructed by building pressure into a small film canister. When the pressure hits its maximum, the canister will burst and send the rocket soaring into the sky. The gas that has accumulated inside will not only help it launch but assist its propulsion.
Step 1: Gather the Materials
The first step in crafting your homemade rocket is gathering the following materials:
- Alka-seltzer tablets
- Several sheets of old computer paper
- Paper towels
- A plastic 35 millimeter film canister
- Clear packing tape
These will form the base construction of your rocket. Naturally, to increase the awesomeness of your rocket, you can use other materials and cool looking stickers(it is a proven fact that flames on the side of your car, ship, or rocket will make them go faster). However, keep in mind that increasing the weight can encumber your rocket and slow it down, which is invariably not cool.
Step 2: Shaping the Rocket
The computer paper will make the chassis of your rocket. Most office supply stores should still carry it. Fold the paper in half the long way and cut along the seam. Then take one of your halves and cut it the short way. You should now have one long half strip and two quarter pieces. Use one of the quartered pieces for your rocket fins, cutting it into four triangles. The other quartered piece is for the nose cone. To construct a nose cone, simply draw a circle onto the piece and cut along the edge. Dot the center of the circle. Then draw one vertical and horizontal line from the dot, and cut along the lines. Roll the remaining circle into a cone and tape the edges.
Step 3: Putting it Together
Tape the long strip of paper and roll it around the 35 mm film canister so the cap side comes out slightly from the edge of the paper. When you’ve rolled it tightly enough, wrap it in tape. Next, tape the finds to the rocket and the nose cone on the tip.
Step 4: Ignition
Open the film canister and fill three quarters of it with water. Next, drop an Alka-Seltzer into the canister, close the lid, and quickly stand the rocket onto a level surface. The chemical reaction and pressure will send the rocket blasting into the air in a paroxysm of science and fun.
Step 5: Bigger Rockets
Now that you have the basics of rocket science down, you are now ready to move on to bigger, more glorious things. Consider a larger canister, or a different chemical reaction such as soda and mentos. You can paint the paper, or saddling a tiny cowboy to the hull, or construct a ramp to alter the trajectory. Whatever the trigger, you will be satisfied with the results, and when the folks at the office ask you what you did that weekend, you will tell them you built a rocket, and it will be no lie.