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Paper Rockets

Paper Rockets!

Paper Rockets!

Paper Rockets!

Project Description (15)

Students will create and launch paper rockets. They will have the opportunity to observe the concepts of force and motion in action.

Recommended Grade 1st grade
Sciece Topic Force and Motion

NC 3.P.1 Understand motion and factors that affect motion.
3.P.1.3 Explain the effects of Earth’s gravity on the motion of any object on or near the Earth.


How do you make something move? You push or pull it! Pushes and pulls are forces; forces start, stop and change motion.

Vocabulary Words
Gravity: Gravity is the force the pulls things toward the center of the earth.
Air Resistance: Air resistance is the force that pushes against things when they are moving through the air it is a form of friction.

What is happening?
Paper rockets are pushed up into the air by the a launcher. Gravity is the force pulling the rocket back toward the earth and the air itself if also pushing on the rocket. Gravity and air resistance work against the rocket. As long as the push-up is greater than gravity and air resistance the rocket will stay in the air. When the pull of gravity is greater than the push the rocket will come back down to the ground.

The rocket launcher starts motion by pushing the rocket up into the air. Gravity and air resistance change the motion of the rocket by eventually pulling it back down to the earth. The ground itself stops the rocket's motion because when the rocket hits the ground the ground pushes up on the rocket and gravity can not pull it any closer to the earth.

Learning Outcomes

1. A basic understanding of gravity and how it relates to rockets
2. A basic understanding or air resistance and how it relates to rockets
3. A basic understanding of the forces acting on a rocket
4. Practicing patience
5. Failing-Up


-Clear packing tape
-Printer paper
-12 in. PVC pipes
-Rocket Launcher (link to how to make one and where to purchase one)


Video link coming soon!

1. Talk about why some rockets flew higher than others
2. Talk about why some came straight down while others did not
3. Have them talk about how they would make their rocket differently next time and why

Time Estimate: 60-75 minutes


What went well..
This project is a huge hit with students and staff! Its an activity where students will have to practice patience and learn from their mistakes and were able to understand the basics of gravity and air resistance.

What we would change..
Having more parent volunteers and following up with a debrief to really get the material to stick.