Soda Bottle Rocket Launch Pad

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About: I'm a middle school science teacher going on 17 years in the classroom. I've taught 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I'm constantly looking to improve my instruction and Instructables is one of the places I sear...

If you want to launch SODA BOTTLE ROCKETS, you'll need to build a sturdy launch pad. Soda Bottle Rockets are a fun project that anyone can build. I've built them with students during the school year and with campers at summer camp. They are the perfect summer activity because they blast water out of the back and get everyone in the launch zone a good soaking.

This rocket launcher kit I purchased on Amazon has less than stellar reviews, but they all say the same thing. The prongs that hold the rocket up aren't very stable (especially when the ground gets wet...something that tends to happen when you're launching water rockets!). To solve the issue, I constructed a wooden base that can handle rocket launches for years to come.

This base is actually designed to launch two rockets simultaneously for my middle school classes but can be easily adjusted to launch one at a time. If you're planning to do this project with large groups, I'd pick up two launch kits.

Supplies:

About 5 feet of 1x6 pine (or any other scrap boards you might have laying around)

1/2" wooden dowels (About 8 feet worth)

Wood screws

Drill bits (1/2" and 5/8")

Drill or Drill Press

Tape measure or ruler

Hand Saw

Step 1: Calculate Your Angles

I thought it would be best to set up the launch pad at a 45-degree angle. I used my square to measure out 4 triangles and used a handsaw to cut out each one. I had about one meter of 1x6 left to work with.

Step 2: Measure and Mark

Each prong of the launch apparatus is 1/2" wide. The points of the prongs do a good job of making their mark in the wood, but you don't want to drill your hole where the mark is (because the point is not in the center of the prong). Drill the hole 0.25" to the outside of where each mark is.

Follow the dimensions of the image. The corners of the triangle meet at the center of the circles.

Drill your holes. A drill press is a big help here (especially for the dowel holes) to make sure the holes are perpendicular to the board.

Step 3: Attach the Board to the Triangles

I drilled a pilot hole and attached the board to the triangles with a few wood screws.

Now it's starting to look like a launch pad!

Step 4: Add the Launch Kit and Wood Dowels

The 1/2" prongs from the launch kit will fit snug in the 1/2" drilled holes.

The wooden dowels (each about 2 feet long) will help maintain the proper angle for launch.

Step 5: Test and Adjust

I ended up placing two bricks under the front of the launch pad to increase the angle to around 60 degrees resulting in higher altitude launches. I also added some weight plates behind the launch pad because the force of the launch was enough to make the launch pad inch backward.

Thanks for looking. Please let me know if you decide to attempt this project at your house or with your students!

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    2 Discussions

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    joen

    4 days ago

    You guys should wear t-shirts that say "This DOES take rocket science!"

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    WeTeachThemSTEM

    6 days ago

    Your Soda Bottle Rocket project is so awesome! Thanks for sharing the Launch Pad tutorial to go with it! Love the launch videos!!! :)