Bottle Blast Off

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With little more than a plastic bottle, some vinyl tubing, and a length of PVC pipe, make a rocket and a rocket launcher and investigate how rockets fly. For planning purposes, each learner will probably want to make their own rocket, but you'll need only two rocket launchers per group (learners take turns launching their rockets).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Two empty 2-liter plastic soda bottles from the recycling bin
  • About 1 meter (3 feet) of clear flexible vinyl tubing with 1/2 inch inner diameter and 5/8 inch outer diameter (the type of tubing doesn’t matter, as long as you can tape one end to the neck of the soda bottle and the other end to the PVC pipe)
  • About 60 centimeters (cm) of PVC pipe with 1/2 inch inner diameter
  • Duct tape
  • Two sheets of 8 1/2" x 11" paper for each person (recycled paper is OK)
  • About 30 cm (1 foot) of PVC pipe for every group of five people (the same type of PVC pipe you used for your rocket launcher)
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors (at least one pair for each group of three)
  • A 3" x 5" index card for each person
  • Pens or pencils
  • A meter stick or some way to measure one meter
  • A ball of string
  • Rulers (at least one for each group of three)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Acceleration
      • Projectile Motion

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • The Exploratorium

Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All rights reserved, The Exploratorium, 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation