An important part of science and engineering is testing your ideas. A “variable” is any part of your experiment that you can change and see what happens to the outcome after you make that change. A good science experiment only changes one variable at a time. Building a paper rocket is a great way to see how variables in both design and applied science can change your experiment’s outcome.
In this experiment, you will be making a rocket that you can propel with air. There are lots of different ways people have propelled rockets throughout history, but the most common is a chemical reaction that produces an explosion that can be directed. The first rockets that used gunpowder as propellent were invented in China in the late 12th century, so this idea has been around for a while!
When you are experimenting, you may realize that some changes make a bigger difference than others. Once you have an idea of what changes are the most important, try designing a rocket that can go the farthest, or fly the most accurately.
Be sure to clean up when you are done. Recycle or throw away the paper, make sure to put everything else you used back where it belongs.
Could you scale this up to make a bigger rocket? How would you launch a paper rocket made of a whole sheet of paper? Could you add something else to your rockets to test?
This experiment was selected for Science at Home because it teaches NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas, which have broad importance within or across multiple science or engineering disciplines.
Learn more about how this experiment is based in NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas.
Engineering Design (ETS)1: Engineering Design
Physical Science (PS)2: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions