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October Sky

Be a Rocket Scientist

Experiment with the basic rocket principals of thrust. This experiment investigates how rockets work through the application of Newton's Laws of Motion: Action & Reaction.

Try building, launching, and experimenting with non-explosive water rockets. Most toy stores sell them, complete with launchers.

Experiment with the water rocket by varying the amount of pressure (number of pumps) or by varying the amount of water (thrust propellant) and find the optimal amount.

Another non-explosive water rocket alternative is to build your own 2-liter bottle water rocket and launcher. Plans are available from the NASA website, .

NASA's site also includes construction of a good rocket altitude tracker at

Experiment #1: Varying Pressure
While keeping the mass (volume) of the water constant vary the number of pumps and measure the final height that your rocket acheives.
Start with the lowest number of pumps that it takes to have at least some lift off.
Graph your data:

Experiment #2: Varying Mass
Using the best number discovered in Experiment #1 as the constant for the number of pumps, vary the amout of water in your rocket.
Start with no water (just air mass) and continue to increase the water amounts until your rocket is no longer gaining in elevation.
Graph your data

Experiment #1   Experiment #2
Mass of Water Number of Pumps Acheived Height   Mass of Water Acheived Height Number of Pumps


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Copyright 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008