We're going to create a simple air pressure powered paper rocket that you can put together in a only a few minutes. I made this for my kid (five), but it would be a fun project for an older child to make and fly, too. I used to build them all the time in Jr. High.
Warning: Hot glue? It gets hot. If your kid is making one of these, adult supervision would be a good thing.
Yet Another Warning: Rockets are pointy. Don't be an idiot and point these at people's faces.
Step 1: Materials
To build the rocket, you'll need the following materials:
- 1 sheet of 8.5x11in paper
- Masking or Painter's tape (use colored tape for colored rockets)
- A ball point pen like the one pictured or a large drinking straw (for the launcher)
- A hot glue gun and glue stick (if you don't have this, you can use regular white glue, but you'll be waiting a couple of DAYS for the glue to fully dry)
Step 2: Cut Your Paper, Prepare Launcher
First, disassemble the pen so that all you're left with is the barrel, as shown below. Then cut two pieces of paper the length of the launcher and roughly 2in in width.
Step 3: Making the Rocket Body
Now, affix a piece of tape along one long side of one of the pieces of paper, flip it over, and roll the paper, from the opposite end, loosely around the pen barrel to form the rocket body. The rocket body should slide easily along the barrel, without too much room for air to escape.
Step 4: Finishing the Body
Next, finish covering any exposed paper with the painter's tape and slide it off the pen. Trim up the ends of the tube, to remove any excess tape.
Step 5: Seal the End
Seal one end of the tube with tape.
Step 6: Prepping for Tail Fins
Now cut three lengths of tape, approximately 2.5in long. We'll be folding these to make the tail fins for our rocket (you can do four if you really want to, but for a rocket this size, 3 fits better).
Step 7: Making the Fins
Now, carefully, take one piece of tape and fold it over on itself, leaving about 1/4in "tabs" of tape at the end. Then, using your scissors, make a 45 degree cut to create the triangular shape of the fin. Repeat this with the other two pieces of tape, for a total of 3 tail fins.
Step 8: Affix Fins to Rocket
Now attach the fins to the rocket body, using the little tabs of tape on each fin. Place them at equal distances around the base (the open end) of the rocket body (it might be easier to hold onto everything if you stick the rocket barrel onto the end of the launcher).
Step 9: Making the Nose Cone
Now would be a good time to plug in your hot glue gun and let it start heating up.
Take the 2nd piece of paper we cut at the beginning and roll it into a cone that will easily fit over the sealed end of the rocket body.
Step 10: Finish the Nose Cone
Trim the nose cone down to a reasonable size and finish covering it with tape. Make sure that the very tip of the cone is sealed good with tape, or you could burn yourself badly in the next step.
Step 11: Attach Nose Cone to Body
Finally, turn the nose cone over and fill it 3/4 of the way full with hot glue. Be careful here, so that you don't burn yourself. The paper will get warm, but it shouldn't get too hot to hold.
Now, take the rocket body and insert the top (sealed) end into the hot glue, pushing it down so that it sits snugly in the nose cone. Hold everything in place for a few seconds until the glue sets, so that nothing gets misaligned.
Once the glue cools, your rocket is finished.
To fire the rocket, simply insert the pen barrel about 2/3 of the way into the rocket, hold the barrel between your thumb and forefinger and blow hard. Alternately (this works much better, actually), stick the launcher onto an air pump hose and give it a blast to watch it really fly!