How to Make a Stomp Bottle Rocket

This tutorial is a very cheap and inexpensive way to build a model rocket that is a lot of fun to play with. It’s an excellent way to teach and learn concepts such as aerospace engineering and other Physics concepts such as trajectory, pressure, and force. All of the supplies you will need are inexpensive and cheap so you can make a few, or enough for a classroom, without breaking the bank.

One last thing. It’s all fun and games until someone loses and eye….or takes a rocket in the knee. You are building a projectile, so be smart and be safe.

Stuff you will need

    •  Plastic Bottle (20 oz or 1 liter)
    • 5/8″ – 3/4″ (1.5-2 cm) diameter PVC pipe
    • 5/8″ – 3/4″ (1.5-2 cm) diameter Vinyl Tubing (You only need about 3 ft (1 m))
    • 5/8″ – 3/4″ (1.5-2 cm) diameter Vinyl Tubing Connector

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      Vinyl Tubing Connector
      (This will have double ends so you must cut it in half)

    • Paper (Printer paper or Construction paper)
    • Tape
    •  Duct Tape
    • Glue (Hot Glue is fine)
1.    Start by cutting the tubing connector in half (see picture above)
2.    Drill a hole with a knife or drill in the cap of the plastic bottle a fraction smaller than the diameter of the Tubing Connector.
 

3.      Push the rigid end of the Connector through the bottom of the hole in the cap.  You can put some clue around the edges to help make it air tight, but not too much to prevent it from screwing back on the bottle.

 
4.      Slide one end of the Vinyl tubing onto the connector sticking out the end of the bottle.  It should be tight enough that you don’t need any tape or glue.  But it won’t hurt if you do so.

 
5.      Take a piece of paper (or construction paper) and wrap around the PVC pipe.  Tighter is better than loose.   Then tape down the edge.

 

6.      Next cut out a circle about 9cm in diameter.
  • Cut a slit from the edge to the center
  • Twist this around itself to make a nose cone for the paper tube you just made
  • Glue or tape this onto the end of the paper tube.  *It is important this be glued well so it does not come off from the pressure.

Next fold a piece of paper in half and cut diagonally across from the fold to make some fins.

 

  • Trim the unfolded edges down to any length you desire.
  • Fold the ends opposite the folded edge to create “ears” to tape or glue to the rocket body (paper tube)

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  • The fold will allow the fin to open up in the middle during flight, thus creating more surface area and greater flight stability.

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Next slide the PVC pipe into the other end of the Vinyl tubing

  • Only slide in enough to leave space between the end of the Vinyl tubing and the end of the paper tube so you can tape the PVC pipe to the tubing.
  • To help, you can slide the rocket on the PVC pipe until it is firmly seated and then slide the PVC pipe into the vinyl tubing.
  • Use duct tape to secure the PVC pipe to the Vinyl tubing



Launch Procedure:
 
1.  Slide the “Rocket” onto the PVC pipe
2.  Hold where the PVC pipe and Tubing connect
3.  Stomp on the plastic bottle….”LIFT OFF!!!”
 
*To relaunch blow back into the PVC pipe 
to re-inflate the bottle.
 



Science Connection/Explanation

This is aerospace engineering and physics concepts.  Stomping on the bottle (Launcher) decreases the volume of the bottle and the air that was in it moves out of the bottle into the tubing and up to the end of the rocket, which lifts (pushes) off of the PVC pipe.

Rockets that are launched into space, the lift off force is created by igniting massive amounts of fuel.  For both kinds of rockets the pushing force has to be strong enough to overcome the force of gravity (determined by the mass of the rocket) in order to launch the rocket.  

Aiming the rockets is a challenge and aerospace engineers use both mathematics and physics to help them aim, guide, and time the launches correctly.



Extension

Conduct experiments on: 

  • The size(volume) of the bottle
  • Different lengths and diameters of rockets and cones
  • How can you get the highest altitude?
  • Work on trajectory by creating targets to hit
  • Build a two-stage rocket, or one with a parachute.

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