How to Make a Plastic Bottle Rocket

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When you teach students about chemical reactions, you can tell them how certain substances can produce large amounts of gas when combined with other substances. One way to show them this lesson first-hand is to create a rocket using a plastic water bottle, an alkaline substance, such as baking soda, and an acidic substance, such as concentrated lemon juice. Once combined, the substances will create enough gas to lift the bottle into the air.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic water bottle, 16 oz.
  • Lemon juice
  • Paper towel
  • Baking soda
  • Rubber band
  • Cork
  • String
  • Fill a 16-oz. plastic bottle halfway up with concentrated lemon juice.

  • Place a sheet of paper towel on a table. Pour 4 tablespoons of baking soda into the middle of the paper towel.

  • Pull up the sides of the paper towel into a pouch, and wrap a rubber band around the pouch to secure it.

  • Tape a 6-inch piece of string onto the end of a standard-sized cork.

  • Place the half-filled bottle onto the ground, slip the paper towel pouch into the bottle, and place the cork into the opening of the bottle quickly. When the paper towel dissolves, the baking soda will be released. The baking soda will react with the lemon juice, cause gas to be released quickly, and will pop the cork into the air like a rocket.

Tips & Warnings

  • To avoid accidents, set up the plastic bottle rocket outside in an area away from windows. This experiment is suitable for children ages 6 and older, and should always be supervised by an adult.

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References

  • Photo Credit water bottle image by Radu Razvan from Fotolia.com
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