Thursday, March 17, 2011

Soda Bottle Rocket Launcher

2 liter soda bottle, water, cardboard, duct tape, ballast, air at 80 psi, and 100 yards of range to fly. We create rockets out of soda bottles and launch them as part of the school science fair competition. Last year we launched 120 student rockets. Several teachers use the rockets as part of their science curriculum, dividing students in groups to test one variable each (fins, mass, water)
It started when I volunteered to help out with some science demonstrations in my son's 5th grade class 3 years ago. I brought in some demonstrations for the class. After the presentation I was asked to play the "Mad Scientist" during the "Fun With Science Night" demonstration. Fun with science night is the kickoff event to the science fair. The goal is to get kids excited about science and participating in the fair.

Along with the science fair the school has competitions that included soda bottle rockets. The launcher used previously by the school was not available. A fellow parent volunteer (an Engineer from a Northwest aerospace company) and I were recruited to each build a launcher. Two launchers would give us more capacity during the increasingly popular competition.
The Launcher

Bottle Latched

Bottle Unlatched
I decided to make the launcher building my own competition, and started building a 4 pad launcher. Not liking the PVC launcher designs on the internet, I wanted something that would take a beating year after year.
Test Launch

120 Rockets-Post Launch
In the end out my fellow builder did not complete his launcher. My launcher works well and the rocket launch has increase in popularity to the 120 rockets we launched last year in addition to the 70 popsicle stick bridges and science fair projects. This year we are adding mouse trap dragsters.

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