Balloon Rockets

Inspired by our 2019 exhibition Brodie Ellis Heavy Launch. This exhibition explored the idea of space travel and the resources and energy needed to launch a rocket. This activity allows kids, and enthusiastic adults, to make a rocket of their own and to learn more about propulsion, rocket design, and the transformation of energy.

Materials needed

  • String
  • Cardboard straw
  • Balloon
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors

autumn flora sculptures

Monet, The Galette

Step 1

Decorate your cardboard straw anyway you like. This straw will be acting as your rocket. For inspiration have a look at Brodie Ellis’ rocket from her Heavy Launch exhibition.

Step 2

Tie one end of the string to a support (chair, door handle, lamp) Thread the string through your straw rocket, pull it tight and tie the loose end to another support.

Step 3

Blow up your balloon and pinch the end shut (don’t tie it up). With the help of a friend tape the balloon to the underside of your straw rocket so the opening is horizontal to the ground.

Monet, The Galette

Monet, The Galette

IMAGES >  Balloon Rockets. photographs by Sebastian Heusler.

Step 4

Pull your balloon all the way back to the start of the string.

Step 5 

Let go of the end you have been pinching shut and watch your rocket race along the string.

Step 6

If you want to know just how fast your rocket went carry out the following extra steps:

  • Measure the length of your string in centimetres.
  • Time how many seconds your rocket takes to go from one end to the other.
  • Now that you know the distance of your string and time of your rocket launch; divide the distance by the time and then multiply the answer by 0.036
  • Speed = distance/time x 0.036

*we multiply by 0.036 as there are 3600 seconds in 1 hour.