Here is a neat and very simple little project that can be completed by students as young as third grade (with some guidance). The pocket rocket blaster uses an empty toothpaste tube and a straw to launch small paper rockets and "other" things. I used pocket blasters in my math and science classes before I retired. I still do a rocket project each year and start the activity with pocket blasters.
Pocket Rocket Blaster materials -
1 empty tooth paste tube
Gorilla Glue (the Dries White 2x Faster one)
Drill Bits and Drill Gauge
Rocket materials -
Writing paper, copy paper, index paper (will discuss properties later)
Elmers White Glue
There are numerous straws available and I was surprised by how many of them vary in diameter. A 'flex' straw, one that has an accordion section close to one end works best for the launch tube extending from the toothpaste tube.
1. Cut the short end, closest to the flex about 1/2 inch from the flex.
2. Cut 1/4 inch slices in the cut end. You will spread these cuts after you have slid the slid the straw into the toothpaste cap. Set aside.
3. Measure the diameter of the straw using a drill gauge. In this example the straw was exactly 5.95mm or 15/64 inch. Use the appropriate drill bit to drill a hole into the center of the toothpaste cap.
4. Carefully push the sliced end of the straw through the hole until the flex meets the hole and bend the slices outward on the inside.
5. Place a bead of Gorilla Glue around the lip of the toothpaste tube and screw the cap back on. This glue will expand and secure the straw in the cap.
Making the 'rocket' or projectile is the next step. The rocket can be a simple as a straw wrapper or more involved as a rocket made out of index paper. Each different rocket will produce different results because of a number of variables such as paper weight, use of fins, and size.
The example is a rocket made out of index paper. Using index paper gives the rocket more mass and the fins help it fly straighter. The best rocket for distance is a rocket made out of index paper.
A fast and dirty rocket can be made by using writing or copy paper and wrapping it around a pencil and taping it. The fins can also be made out of tape. Use your imagination.
Another rocket idea is to find a straw that is just a little larger than the straw used for the launch tube. They are out there, but it takes some effort.
Index Paper Rocket
1. Wrap a 3x5 inch piece of index paper around a pencil that is close to the same diameter as your launch tube. Again, there is a surprising range of pencil diameters so just keep your eyes open for a good match. (Tinkerers and DIYers are doing this all the time)
2. Plug one end of the rocket body. A rolled piece of paper was used in the example, but anything can be used to make a strong seal.
3. Add a nose cone and fins.
You're now ready to launch. Remember safety first and don't point the rocket in the direction of any people. Slide the rocket onto the launch tube and you can control the angle of the launch tube with one hand. Then, pound down with a fist on the tube to launch the rocket.