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How to Make an Air Rocket Launcher

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air rocket launcher

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…BLASTOFF! 

I was shocked at how high a simple paper rocket would go when propelled by a stomp on a soft drink bottle that is attached to PVC pipe!  As we were trying it out, the neighborhood kids (and a few adults) came over for their turn to launch a rocket.

Our pack is hosting a community “Rocket Academy” event as our round-up.  We'll have several rocket activities that kids can do, and this will be one of them.

Building an air rocket launcher would make a great den activity.  Have all the supplies ready, and the boys can assemble it.  Discuss with them how the launcher works.  And make sure you leave time for them to launch a few rockets!  🙂

This fun air rocket launcher is easy and inexpensive to make.  Here's what you need:

(It's easy to buy online from Home Depot & pick up in your local store!)

To make the rocket launcher, follow these steps:

  1. Cut one 4′ piece and two 2′ pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe.
  2. Cut two 1′ pieces of 3/4″ PVC pipe.
  3. Line up the opening of the soft drink bottle and one end of the 4′ piece of PVC pipe and tape together with the duct tape.  Fold the end of the tape back over onto itself so that it will be easier to remove.
  4. Taper one end of a 2′ PVC pipe by using a file or scraping on the sidewalk.  If you use the sidewalk, pull the pipe toward you while rotating it will make a smoother taper.
  5. Attach the adapter to the smaller end of the 90 degree conduit elbow.
  6. Insert the other end of the 4′ PVC pipe into one opening of the 90 degree conduit elbow.
  7. Insert the untapered end of the 2′ PVC pipe into the opposite end of the 90 degree conduit elbow.
  8. Insert one of the 1′ pieces of 3/4″ PVC pipe into one of the 45 degree conduit elbows.  Insert the second piece of PVC pipe into the second elbow.
  9. Place the PVC “cross” over the 2′ PVC pipe.
  10. Attach one of the 45 degree conduit elbows onto the side of the PVC “cross” and repeat on the other side.

And now you have your air rocket launcher!  Find out how to make the rockets here.

Yours in Scouting,
Sherry

P.S. If this activity was fun for your Cub Scouts, sign up below for more cool ideas!

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Jolyn Dickerson

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

This was a great activity for our pack! The video was very helpful in explaining the steps to assemble the launcher and make the rockets. And the links directly to Home Depot made ordering really easy - I just drove up and they brought out my order. I pre-cut the PVC pipe for several launchers and let the dads and boys put them together. while the boys and moms made the formers for the rockets. Then the boys made the rockets. Tip here: have several tape dispensers available. After the rockets were made, off they went to launch them. The boys and parents played for over an hour! They replaced the bottles as necessary and repaired their rockets. Such a lot of fun for this simple, low-tech toy.

Sherry Smothermon-Short

Thursday 13th of August 2020

So glad it worked out for you! Thanks for sharing!

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howarthe

Monday 12th of January 2015

Awesome! I was hoping to be able to do this indoors. It is always raining here in Oregon, during the school year, but the ceiling in our meeting place isn't that high. Maybe the kids won't be able to stomp quite so hard. Maybe I'll use a one-liter bottle instead. Maybe I set it at an angle? Hmm... What do you think?