Day 2 was film canister rockets. Yes, another rocket, but these are a different animal. Very fun! The tricky part is coming up with enough canisters, and the right kind. Either plan to pay for them, or start collecting early. Don’t forget to check out your local film processing places to see if they have any or can save any for you or search their recycling bin for them. Walmart, drug stores, camera shops, etc. may have them.
(In the photo below, my daughter had ripped off one of the foam fins, so it’s not a completely accurate picture. FYI, the glue gun will stick the fins back on. I had to re-attach a few for the kids at VBS.)
Basic instructions for canister rockets are available online. Here’s a decent one to check out over at NASA’s The Space Place. (It does take a little while to load, at least for my country speed access.)
It really does matter that the canisters have the top that fits like a plug/cork. The ones that snap around the outside lid will NOT work. They just flop over after they burst out the side somewhere that the lid snaps on.
My first sample I tried card stock and was worried about it falling apart with moisture- my suspicions were quickly confirmed, so I moved on to craft foam.
I pre-cut these- foam isn’t that cheap, and there’s other stuff for the kids to do, so they don’t need to cut it. It’s an extensive prep-work craft. Here’s my pattern for the foam on a PDF. Just cut it out of an old cereal box for your stencil and you’re ready to trace on foam. I was able to squeeze 5 on a sheet- you may need to shift the fin slightly off the page to squeeze all 5 on You’ll need 2 pieces per kid, but they’re exactly the same and interlock to form the rocket. It just needs to be attached to the canister.
Kids assembled the foam on the canisters. (Decorate if desired). Tape one of the two pieces of foam onto the canister- stay away from the canister top so you don’t tape it shut. (Again, pic is missing the top fin- don’t let that throw you off.)
Then interlock the fins and the holes on both sides.
Last task is to tape the other half of the rocket down to the canister.
That’s it! Now for the exciting part! Go outside to fly them!
I pre-made baking soda packets, so a pitcher of vinegar allowed us to launch everyone’s rocket once.
To make the baking soda packets- I used a sheet of TP (any ply will work) with about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda. Put the soda in the center and twist a tail on it. More baking soda actually made them fly poorly- it needs to be a balance so the “fuel” is all used up. Ditto on the vinegar- too much makes them pop too quickly and not as high. You want space for the pressure to build up in the canister so it will launch higher.
To fly the rockets: fill the canister about 1/2 way with vinegar. Set the baking soda packet in- tail pointed DOWN into the vinegar. Quickly put the cap on, flip the rocket upside down on a “launch” surface, stand back, and watch. Within 5-10 seconds, the rocket will fly! The rocket below was on the front of the window well. Notice in the very top right corner of the second photo below there’s a rocket. That’s about all the further it went up, but it’s pretty neat.
I made up a handout for the kids to take so their parents could help them repeat the fun at home. Here’s the handout in PDF (copy and cut- each kid will only receive a partial sheet of paper).
For more VBS craft ideas, check my VBS tab!