Spring is in the air! We know it’s a little early for some, maybe you still have some snow on the ground, but here in sunny AZ, spring is in full swing! (Yes, we’re rubbing it in.) So, it’s time to get outside and start having some fun!

Let’s kick off spring with an EPIC bottle rocket, powered by an acid and a base. Here’s what you’ll need for this super sweet activity:

  • Empty 2-liter soda bottle
  • 3 pencils (unsharpened)
  • Duct tape
  • Cork (fitted to soda bottle)
  • Paper towels
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Wood, cardboard, cookie sheet, or some other stable “launch pad”

Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, we want you to answer a question before we start building the rocket… What material is your acid and what material is your base? These two items will power your rocket, so it’s important to understand what they are.

Answer: The baking soda is the base, and the vinegar is the acid!

Let’s start building the rocket. When a rocket launches, it lifts off from a launch pad. Try using a sturdy piece of wood or cardboard on the ground. You’ll need to stabilize your rocket on the launch pad to prepare it for lift off, and that’s where the pencils come in.

Put the cork in the 2-liter bottle and turn it upside down. Using the duct tape, strap the pencils to the rocket as “feet” for it to stand on. Space the pencils out evenly, sort of like a tripod, around the rocket. Make sure the cork is near or touching the ground.

You can decorate your rocket if you’d like, maybe with stickers or markers, but don’t attached too much to it, as you don’t want to weigh it down.

Now, let’s get to the launch party! Here’s where you probably want to head outside.

Pour baking soda into a small square of paper towel. Fold the paper towel around it, so it looks like a little packet. Make sure it can fit through the bottle opening. But, don’t add this baking soda packet to the bottle just yet.

Pour 1-2 cups of vinegar into the 2-liter bottle. You can play around with the quantities of vinegar and baking soda and keep launching your rocket until you find the perfect combination for an epic launch.

After pouring the vinegar into the bottle, quickly push the baking soda packet in, cork it, and turn it over onto it’s launch pad. Try not to push the cork in too tightly, or your rocket may not launch. Now, stand back!

Here’s where that magic (aka, science) happens. The baking soda and the vinegar will react, creating carbon dioxide gas. The gas builds up pressure in the bottle, until it needs to release, pushing the cork out and launching your rocket!