Physics experiment: Straw rocket racing

Physics experiment: Straw rocket racing

Use items around the house to create aerodynamic experiments!

My daughter and I love to use straws in just about anything. Whether it’s craft making (cut up straws into strips and thread them as a necklace!), sculptures (she made me a horse sculpture to represent Artax from The Neverending Story last night), or science projects, we always need straws in our house.

We use straws as rockets to race in two ways: as launchers and as rocket bodies. Here’s how you do both.

Launchers: This is the easiest one to do. Many of you might remember it simply as “spitballs” from middle school! Roll up a small ball and use your straws to blow it as far as you can. You can alternate by using the ball inside the actual straw or simply on your palm (or elbow, etc. to make it more challenging), use a wet or dry ball, whatever you like. The limit is only your imagination! We tried this with squinkies, too, but it didn’t work so well.

Balloon rockets: Cut a small piece of your straw off—maybe a one-inch piece or so—and blow up a balloon without tying it (just hold it still while inflated). Tape your straw to your balloon, then threat some string through it. Tape one end of the string up high—a doorway works well—then step back and make the string taught. Release your balloon and see how fast it goes! Race your whole family with different strings or just by taking turns.