Fun Friday – Rockets!

Fun Friday – Rockets!

 What is a rocket?


A rocket can describe any object that is propelled by fast moving liquid or gas!


Most rockets have a nose or cone at the top, a body that houses the fuel and fins at the base.
Rockets are usually powered by a chemical reaction (explosion) within the rocket itself. This chemical reaction requires both fuel and oxygen, both of which must be carried within the rocket.
The fuel and oxygen are called the propellant. There are two types of propellant, liquid propellant and solid propellant.
A solid propellant rocket is easier, simpler and cheaper to make.  However, these rockets are harder to guide and control as once the chemical reaction is started it is hard to stop.
A liquid propellant rocket is more complex and expensive to make but the burning of the liquid fuel is allot easier to control.
 photo credit: Flying Jenny via photopin cc

photo credit: Flying Jenny via photopin cc

A bit of history


The Chinese were the first to invent rockets when they started filling bamboo tubes with gunpowder and lighting them.
Rocket science really began with an English man called Isaac Newton. He formulated three laws to explain the physics of motion. These laws explain how rockets work!

Newton‛s 3rd Law of Motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction!

To understand this law think of a balloon full of air.
Demonstrating Newton's Law of Motion
Demonstrating Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion
If the balloon is untied and the air suddenly let out, it will escape the balloon with such force that it will propel the balloon in the opposite direction.
The force of the air leaving the balloon is called the thrust! The thrust that powers the launch of a rocket comes from the force of the gas (generated by the burning fuel) being ejected from the rear of the rocket!

The first liquid propellant rocket was launched in 1926 by an American called Robert Goddard.  He is considered the father of modern rocket science!

Rocket to the Moon


Neil Armstrong... photo credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via photopin cc
Neil Armstrong…
photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
via photopin cc

In 1969 Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first men on the moon.

Armstrong and Aldrin traveled to the Moon in a rocket called Saturn V. It was 100 metres tall and weighed more than 3,000 tonnes! It was the largest rocket ever launched!

An Experiment to try at home


Make a stomp rocket!


You will need… an empty 2L plastic bottle, paper, insulation tape, a 1/2 inch PVC pipe, a length of rubber tubing;

What to do… tape one end of the rubber tubing to the neck of the bottle and tape the other end to one end of the PVC pipe. Next make the body of the rocket by wrapping a piece of paper around the PVC pipe and secure it with tape at the overlap. Remove the rocket from the pipe. Cut four triangles of paper and attach to the body of  the rocket near one end; these are the rocket fins. Make a nose (cone shape) for the other end of the rocket and attach it with tape.  You are now ready to launch your rocket. (Best to do this outside!).
Sit your paper rocket over the PVC pipe and place the 2L bottle on the ground on its side. Stomp on the bottle and watch your rocket shoot off!
This is what your stomp rocket should look like
This is what your stomp rocket should look like

So what is happening?
… when you stomp on the bottle the air inside it shoots out through the tubing and the pipe, forcing the rocket off the end of the pipe! Just blow into the pipe to re-inflate to bottle to start again!

An Experiment to try at home


Make a teabag rocket

I have shared this one with you before, but for those of you who have not seen it I thought it would be a nice addition here…. a double for the Bank Holiday Weekend ;0)

If you try any of the experiments or have any comments or questions, please let me know in the comments below!


#FunFriday – learning about pressure!

I am pleased to be part of a Science and Nature theme at this week.  If you check out the links you can find some fun and fact filled articles on Sound, Light and Pressure along with some suggested experiments on each topic.

For today’s #FunFriday post I have shared one of the experiments on Pressure….hope you like it!


Have a great weekend and remember to drop me a comment if you try it or have any suggestions or questions!  I always love to hear from you!

#FunFriday – experiment with sound

This weeks #FunFriday experiment is a simple and easy way to teach children how sound moves in air.

What you will need:

  • An empty plastic bottle
  • Scissors
  • A piece of plastic (cut from a plastic bag or equivalent)
  • An elastic band or tape
  • Small candles
  • Matches

(Adult assistance required!)

Just follow the steps in the video… and the “big kids” among you might like the second half of the video… where I scale things up a little!

So what is happening?

When you tap the plastic it acts like a drum.  The sound waves it creates make the air molecules vibrate.  These vibrating molecules then make the molecules beside them vibrate.  The vibrations travel through the air in the bottle and blow out the flame.

Hope you enjoy this one… if you like it please share it and if you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear from you!
Fun Friday – Rainbow Explosions

Fun Friday – Rainbow Explosions

Wow, its Friday again, so that must mean another Fun Friday post.  This week’s experiment is quick and simple… and lots of FUN….rainbow explosions –  a BIG hit with all three of my children.

You probably have everything you need already in your kitchen!





You will need:

Bread Soda
Some different colours of food colouring
Some small spoons
Some small plastic cups (or similar)
A plate to contain it all






What you do:


Hope this is as much fun in your house as it was in ours;  Let me know how you get on!


They liked it so much they had to have a rerun….love the colours, don’t you?


Fun Friday – make a periscope

Fun Friday – make a periscope

We had fun making this one… a bit fiddly at parts but worth it, the boys love their new periscope! You will need…. 2 clean empty juice/milk cartons (1 Litre) Some duct tape Scissors Pen Ruler 2 small mirrors (I got a little double mirror in a make-up set in The Two Euro Shop (for €1.50) )

What you need

What to do: First, cut the tops off the two cartons and tape them one on top of the other (taping them at the open ends)

Cut tops off
Tape together

Next mark off a square on the top side of one of the cartons with your marker (I made the square 5cm X 5cm);  Cut out the square. Repeat this step on the opposite end and side of the other carton… so if the first square is on the bottom right side of your periscope cut the second square out of the top left of the periscope.

Cut a square

Now you want to fit a mirror into each end of the carton so that the reflective side of the mirror is facing you as you look in the hole and each mirror is tilted at an angle of approximately 45 degrees.  The bottom mirror is tilted up at an angle of 45 degrees and the top mirror is tilted down at an angle of 45 degrees. I was lucky, my mirrors fitted the exact width of my milk cartons so I was able to place them inside, tilt them as required and then tape them in place.  If your mirrors are wider than your carton then mark a line at the side of your carton, cut a slit and slide in your mirror.  Repeat for the other mirror then tape into place.

You should be able to look into the bottom hole and see what is reflected through the top hole….

Now all that remains is to decorate your periscope and have some fun…. you can use it to look around things or over things, great for playing spies, which is a very popular game in this house.


How does it work? The object we see is reflecting light, this light is bounced off the top mirror onto the bottom mirror which bounces the light right onto our eyes!

How it works
How it works

FEEDBACK: I love hearing from people who have tried some of these experiment so please let me know if you try this one, or even send me some photos of your finished periscope;  If you have any questions just ask!

Fun Friday – make a balloon hovercraft

Here is a simple and fun experiment to try at home – how to make a balloon hovercraft.  I was temporarily abandoned by my junior scientists so had to step in front of the camera for a change….. so everybody…. meet Dr. How ;0)

Hope you have fun with this experiment and do please drop me a line or a little comment to tell me what you think or how you got on!

…and if you like it, please spread the word!

Fun Friday – the coke and mentos experiment…with a bit of a twist!!

Fun Friday – the coke and mentos experiment…with a bit of a twist!!

It’s Friday so that can only mean one thing… another fun experiment to try, think you are going to like this one!

Nearly everyone seems to have heard of the classic “Coke & Mentos” experiment so we started with that…


You will need:


A 2 Litre bottle of coke (Diet coke is best as it doesn’t leave a sticky mess)
A packed of mentos mints
Basically you want to place the bottle of coke on the ground and add as many mentos to it at once as possible and then stand way back!!


How do you add the mentos?


  • Well you could pop one or two in quickly and it will work fairly well.
  • You could roll a piece of paper into a tube, sit it in the neck of the bottle and, gently pinch the base while you      fill it with mentos (up to ten is about right) and then let then all slip into the bottle when you release the pinch at the base!
  • There are devices specifically designed for delivering mentos into coke…. I bought this one from my local book  shop…
  • With this you insert the pin, load up with mentos, screw the devise onto the top of your bottle of coke and then pull the pin to release the mints into the coke.  There is even a little ring of plastic that drops down and covers the pin holes so all the coke goes upwards only.
  • You can make your own devise, like we did here (thanks Hubby)… does pretty much the same thing.
  • This is the one the I use for kids parties and events and it goes down a treat.  I don’t bother plugging the holes at the side so the coke fountains out the side as well as the top and it all adds to the effect!

This is what happens when you add the mentos to the coke

Fun, isn’t it, but I thought we could shake it up a little (pardon the pun) … so I added two seven year olds home from school with a temperature and needing a bit of a distraction…

The “R & D” Department

Then I gave them these… and asked them to come up with something fun!

The Props

And this is what they came up with…..(That’s two teddies tied to the front of the skate board!!)…

What do you think?  Not bad for two boys who had a temps of 38.5 an hour before….Oh the wonders of Calpol!

If you really want to scale things up you might get some inspiration from these guys (I love this video ;0)  )…
Coke and mentos powered car“.

So, do you want the bit of science behind the fun?...

Firstly, this is not thought to be a chemical reaction between the coke and the mentos.  It is most likely a physical reaction known as nucleation;  The coke is full of carbon dioxide gas, to give it it’s fizz;  the mentos are full of tiny little craters on the surface of the sweet, the carbon dioxide gas is able to form bubbles in these “craters” producings thousands of tiny bubbles all at once; these bubbles of gas are under a lot of pressure within the bottle of coke and so come shooting out the mouth of the bottle.  If anyone knows anything about Newton and his laws they will know that every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s third law of motion)… so the coke comes shooting out of the bottle in one direction and the force of this propels the skate board forward in the opposite direction.  PRETTY COOL!

Now it’s your turn to go off and try it out, if you come up with any of your own ideas and experiments I’d love to hear about it!


Fun Friday – the bouncy egg experiment!

Fun Friday – the bouncy egg experiment!

With all the excitement of the Easter bunny we forgot about our last egg- experiment…”the bouncy egg” so I thought it might be a fun one to start off this new blog spot… “Fun Friday”, where I will share a new experiment for you to try!

So firstly, this is how we set up the experiment….

We left the eggs in the vinegar for two days and then removed them and gently washed them in a bowl of water … unfortunately,  when I was washing the egg from the plain vinegar experiment, I burst it… Ooops!

No harm done as we substituted the other just to show you how the “bouncy” bit worked!


The result…(we had a very cautious scientist in the video but you can get quite a bounce out of the egg!)



What has happened to the shell?

The vinegar is an acid (acetic acid); it reacts with the calcium in the egg shell (calcium carbonate) and breaks it down, producing a gas as it does so.  You may have observed the gas as bubbles being formed, during the experiment.  Effectively the vinegar (acid) eats away at the egg shell until it is all gone.


The fluorescent bit

Then for a bit more fun I turned on a UV light!  Ok, I know, most of you don’t have one of these lying around at home but as I’m a Mad Scientist I do ;0) …and I was curious to know what would happen if we left it sit in fluorescent vinegar.

The results were Fab!! A fluorescent egg… check it out!  (I hope you can hear me in the video, sound is a bit low!)


So there you go, it worked better than I expected… the egg is completely fluorescent…. and bouncy, just for that extra bit of fun!


What is fluorescence?

In case you are wondering “WHAT IS FLUORESCENCE?”….let me explain… it is the emission of light from an object after it has absorbed light (or electromagnetic energy)…. usually the light absorbed has a short wavelength (in this case the UV light) and the light emitted has a longer wavelength.

When I shone the UV light onto the egg it “glowed”, even in daylight it  looks bright – just like a fluorescent pen!

The flourescent egg in daylight!
The fluorescent egg in daylight!