DIY Science: Make your own Garden Rocket!

Bean7 & 8 love making things with their Daddy at the weekend. Be that constructing a marble run or designing and building a mini trebuchet out of random pieces from the garage (more about this in another post), they treasure this opportunity for hands on learning. But then, what child doesn’t love a bit of DIY science and engineering in the garden on a sunny day? This weekend, Bean8 decided she’d like to build a garden rocket! No pressure then Daddy (no pun intended!).

Whilst we’re huge fans of books in this house, hands on learning is an equally important part of our home ed journey. It is believed that:

“The more avenues there are to receive data through the senses, the more connections the brain can make. The more connections that are made, the better a learner can understand a new idea.”

Furthermore, this is not just true for primary aged children, but for children of all ages as well as us adults. So getting your hands dirty and taking the time to get stuck into practical projects is key for everyone.

Luckily, the Beans had The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys at hand to guide them in how to make such a rocket. The results were extremely impressive. Be aware, this rocket can launch about 10m high and 20m in length. Initially, we accidentally launched it over the wall into the neighbour’s garden, before we repositioned into a safer area!

To make your own garden rocket, you will need:

  • A large plastic bottle (we used a 2l one)
  • An old cork
  • A drill
  • A bicycle pump adapter
  • A bicycle or car pump
  • Electrical tape
  • Some old bricks to make a rocket launch pad (although you could use pieces of wood or other items from your garage; get creative!)

Here’s Bean8 to explain our methodology:

Step 1 – Drill a hole through an old cork and pass through the bicycle pump adapter so that you have equal amounts poking out each end.

Step 2 – Wrap enough electrical tape around the cork so that when you push the cork into the opening of the bottle, it creates a snug fit.

Step 3 – Build a rocket launch pad with old bricks/materials sourced from the garage (see the video for our construction, but feel free to be as creative as you like with your own design).

Step 4 – Push the cork & bicycle pump adapter combo into the opening of the bottle.

Step 5 – Attach the other end of the bicycle pump adapter to the bicycle pump.

Step 6 – Position your bottle upside down on the launch pad.

Step 7 –  Ask spectators to keep out of the way of the bottle’s planned trajectory (!) and take it in turns to press down on the bicycle pump.

Then, watch your bottle fly across the garden!

Here are the Beans to explain the science behind it:

The rocket uses the same principles as a NASA space launch and demonstrates Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Once sufficient air is pumped into the bottle, it forces the water out of the bottle and the bottle itself is propelled forward by the same, but opposite force. And thus, it flies across the garden in the opposite direction from the water, but with the same force as that with which the air pushed out the water.

And you have yourself an awesome rocket! Perfect for a summer’s afternoon of fun 🙂


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