This Spring we have a lot to look forward to, including the return of astronaut Chris Hadfield! In honour of our country’s most famous astronaut returning to Earth, we are celebrating everything astronomy and space during the month of May at the Discovery Centre.
To celebrate the momentous occasion we give you balloon rockets!
For balloon rockets, you will need a few basic supplies: drinking straws (big enough to get a string through), string or line, balloons, tape and paper-crafting supplies (paper and/or card, scissors, drawing stuff, optionally: glue). The basic premise is very simple: put up a long, straight string line in your house or in your yard, and make sure one end can be freed up. This will be a guide for your rockets. By inflating a balloon, and attaching a piece or two of straw to its top, you can string your balloon rocket onto your line to guide the rocket’s path. Launch inflated rockets by releasing the air from one end (either release the pinched end for a reusable one, or cut off the tied end).
The fun comes from elaborating: any kind of rubber balloon works well, but some look more like rockets than others (tip: long “modelling” balloons often need a pump for inflating). Adding paper or cardboard nose-cones, bodies and stabilizer fins not only improves the “rocket” image, but could very well improve your rocket’s performance. Measure your success either by timing the speed of your rocket, or tracking how far it goes on a very long track.
Your balloon rockets (bet you can’t make just one!) will function similarly to a real rocket. Space-going rockets burn materials to produce gasses that push out their nozzles, pushing them into the air at the same time. Your balloons squeeze the air out of their bodies and through their ends, pushing them along a string.
During May, we not only have rocket-making sessions at Discovery Centre (no strings attached, and a little more oomph), check our website for daily planetarium sessions and more – not even the sky is the limit! Bring the whole family!