We’ve purchased numerous stomp rocket kits over the years. Inevitably the foam rockets disintegrate within a matter of weeks. The plastic launchers often become brittle and fall apart. When I realized how easy it is to make your own rockets and launchers at home, I was in heaven; no need to buy expensive kits year after year.
Now, I confess that our parts came from a backyard rockets kit purchased at Barnes and Noble. The directions below are adapted from the book that was included, Stomp Rockets, Catapults & Kaleidoscopes by Curt Gabrielson. Using the book’s directions (pp .104-105), you can do it yourself even without the kit. Here’s what you’ll need:
2 liter plastic bottle
10-inch (approx.) portion of bicycle tubing
2-foot piece of PVC pipe, 1/2 or 3/4-inches in diameter
1 piece 8 1/2 x 11 paper for your rocket body (make sure to decorate it)
1 circle of paper , 3.5 inches in diameter with a wedge removed
Here’s what you do:
1) Fit one end of the inner tube over the top of the 2-liter bottle. Duct tape to seal.
2) Attach other end of the inner tube over one end of the PVC pipe. Duct tape to seal. This is your rocket launcher.
3) Roll up your decorated 8 1/2 by 11 paper, using the PVC pipe as your guide. Make sure the rocket body fits snugly over the PVC pipe, but not so snugly that it can’t fly. Tape the edge securely.
4) Cut at least three fins from card stock. Ours had a hypotenuse of 3 inches. Tape these to the bottom end of your rocket at equal intervals.
5) Cut a circle approximately 3.5 inches in diameter. Cut a small wedge from the circle. Roll it tightly, making sure the cone fits snugly over the top end of your rocket. Using the dowel, push the cone through the rocket until it emerges at the top end. If necessary, tape it.
6) You are ready for launch! Place your rocket over the PVC pipe. Launches work best with two people: one person to stomp on the bottle, the other to point the PVC up to the sky. We had to blow into the PVC pipe to re-inflate between launches.
You can experiment with your rockets to spark discussion. What happens if you don’t put a cone on your rocket? What if you don’t include fins?