So, I had this brain pop one day about blasting off with something in the lab! I mean, kids always predict something will explode or blast off so I figured we should try something. Years ago I tried these balloon rocket ships that ran along a string, but we made the string horizontal.
What would happen if we turned that string vertical??
It's BALLOON ROCKETS! And there are a few things you should know!
1- How will the rockets be propelled?
First, I had to decide how the rockets would be propelled and thought I should just stick with balloons. They don't cost much and they aren't messy. Kids would attach the balloon to the string by threading it through a straw. We ran into all kinds of problems.
2- The balloon had to fit inside the rocket!
Students used their materials to design a rocket and then had to determine a way to attach the balloon to the rocket. The first problem they ran into was that the rocket turned out to be too small for the blown up balloon. So, they redesigned!
3- Blowing up the attached balloon was tricky!
The next problem was that after attaching the balloon to the string the kids had to blow the balloon up. This was hard because the balloon was at the bottom of the string and they were laying on the floor to do this! They learned to slide the rocket up the string, blow up the balloon, and then push the device back to the floor to be released.
4- If one balloon worked, then two will be spectacular!
Well, of course, since they are kids the more the better, right? If one balloon works great, then two should work spectacularly! This turned out not to be the case. Generally it seemed that the balloons were interfering with each other. It was also hard to get the rocket to stay in place with two giant balloons attached to it. And the balloons were giant because the more air you blow into them, the better they work. This, also, turned out not to be true.
5- The balloon has to be attached just right!
We tried all kinds of ways to attach the balloons. A straw taped to the balloon and then the string threaded through it was the method most used. Some kids attached a straw to card stock or index cards and then found a way to attach that to the balloon. One of the photos above shows a group that made a cone-shaped rocket and placed the balloon inside!
This was great fun and so full of trial and error and learning.
This is the challenge during which a young man said to me,
"I can't tell you how many times we have failed at this!"
He then, jumped right back into trying to solve the rocket and balloon problem!
Super engaging, easy materials! Kids love this challenge!