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Building a Rocket Engine Activity

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Rock It at Home with this Rocket Activity + ward ' s science Recommended Grade Level(s): Appropriate for: Elementary and Middle School Time Requirements: Activity Time: 20–30 minutes Teaching Topics & Concepts: • Chemical reactions, gravity, rockets, thrust, pressurization, carbon dioxide Materials: • Empty 2 Liter soda bottle • Three pencils • Duct tape • Cork • Baking soda • Measuring spoon • Vinegar • Paper towel An open outdoor area at least two meters from buildings. It is ideal to have a hard, flat surface, like a paved patio or driveway. Safety • Adult supervision • Wear safety goggles • Do not point rocket at people or breakables ! Background Ready, set, blast off! Everybody enjoys watching objects lift off into the air, like fireworks or a rocket ship. It's thrilling for all. A spacecraft's rockets give it a strong push from a chemical reaction. Rockets need to escape the Earth's gravity. To do this, they must generate a huge amount of thrust — the force that pushes the rocket upwards. Rockets carry a lot of fuel. This fuel burns slowly and generates lots and lots of heat. When the rocket fuel burns, it also produces gas. The buildup of this gas escapes the rocket with a lot of force and provides enough thrust for the rocket to blast off. In this activity, you will get to blast an object into the air using two simple ingredients — baking soda and vinegar. Investigate how to mix these ingredients to get the best lift off, and create your own homemade, gravity-defying show! Procedure: 1. Create a stand. Remove the bottle cap and turn the bottle upside down so the open end is facing down; Use the duct tape to attach the pencils evenly around the open end of the bottle with eraser ends pointing down, so the eraser ends of the pencils extend about an inch past the open end of the bottle. Idea: If you want, you may decorate your bottle rocket with construction paper or stickers. Make sure it is still easy to put the pencils on. 2. Turn the bottle upright so the open end is now facing you; pour vinegar into the bottle, filling it almost halfway. 3. Put 3 tablespoons of baking soda on a small square of paper towel. 4. Roll the paper towel up tight lengthwise, twisting the ends so that the baking soda does not fall out and so you can fit it inside the rocket. 5. Keeping the bottle facing upright, put the paper towel in the bottle, leaving a small tail of it hanging out. 6. Put the cork in the opening of the rocket to hold the paper towel in place and keep the vinegar inside.

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