Super Awesome Sylvia shows you how to build a paper rocket in this MAKE video special MINI episode--
Welcome to our first Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show! Hey! Did you know you could be a rocket scientist in just one day? Well, a hobby rocket scientist anyways! The field of hobby rocketry is huge, ranging from $5 mini starters to multi-thousand dollar custom made giants that can fly thousands and thousands of feet. Today we’ll show you enough to get you up in the air and crashing in no time!
From the hobby store, you’ll need a complete launch kit (Launch pad w/launch rod & launch controller) plus a few size C-6 rocket engines and electric ignitors (the engines usually come in a pack of three, with safety plugs and ignitors). We could make some of these parts, but for safety it’s best to buy your first set. The only thing left is to build the rocket body itself, for that we’ll need:
- White school glue
- Thick legal size construction paper, or any other type of paper about that size
- A little strip of of cardboard, about 2 inches long
- A long cylinder or rod about 3/4” in diameter. Anything from a dowel to a broom handle
- A thin plastic drinking straw
- A file folder or fancy card stock
- Some stickers, markers and other crafty things to decorate the rocket with
- A paperclip (optional) to help secure the rocket engine
- And some not too sticky masking or painters tape
First, take your paper and wrap it nice and tight around your cylinder against a flat table while you glue. Use tape to secure it if needed. Use the card stock to cut out 3 to 4 fins, and glue them on evenly around the rocket body (or fuselage). You can add more if you want, just go crazy! The minimum number of fins is 4, but there's no real maximum (within reason). We added 4 more tiny ones above the main fins on one of our rockets.
The entire assembly has to stay on the cylinder to dry completely overnight (otherwise there's a risk of the fuselage warping as it dries). Once it’s dry, roll up some card stock to make the nose cone and glue it on. Just be sure and trim off any excess nose cone paper to allow the launch rod to attach freely. Now draw a straight line down the fuselage and glue on two pieces of drinking straw for launch lugs.
To make sure your rocket engine doesn’t fly out through your nose cone when it launches, roll the cardboard into a tight circle, coat it in glue and use an engine to push it into the fuselage just far enough to have a tiny lip of engine sticking out. To ensure the engine doesn’t go anywhere before launch, you can either glue in the engine, or use a straightened paper clip sandwiched in the fuselage and bent over to hold the engine. Even engines that are glued in should have the cardboard engine block installed.
Once dried and decorated, your rocket is ready to launch! Find an open area away from trees and power lines, and set up your launch pad. Insert your ignitor with safety plug, attach the controller, get back to a safe distance, and launch! The greatest thing about these little rockets is they're so cheap to make, you won’t really mind the crash at the end. That’s it! Be sure and experiment with different fin shapes or nose cones. Have fun rocket scientists, and remember, get out there and make something!
Songs used during this mini episode (all licensed under Creative Commons Share-alike v2.5 license):
-The Wavers - Surfin' Mosquito