3-2-1 Blast Off! This simple and fun science experiment teaches children about Action and Reaction. Using everyday household items, children learn how the force of air moving in one direction can propel balloon in the opposite direction, much like a rocket!
Below you’ll find a supplies list of everything you need, printable instructions, and the scientific explanation of how it demonstrates Newton’s Third Law of Motion in a fun, hands-on way. It’s so much fun, your kids will want to do it over and over with balloons of different shapes and sizes.
- Drink Straw
- Two objects of the same height that you can tie a string to. We used two chairs
Wondering how to create a balloon rocket? It’s easy! Simply follow these step by step instructions.
Step 1 – Position two objects of the same height (We used chairs) about 10 feet apart. Then grab your string and securely tie one end to one of the objects.
Step 2 – Next, get your plastic drinking straw. If you are using a “bendy” straws with the flexible piece on one end, cut off the flexible part so you are left with a straight straw.
Thread the string through the straw and place two pieces of tape near the middle of the straw. Position the two pieces of tape near the middle of the straw is important because if you place them near the ends of the straw, the straw will bend when the balloon deflates and the rocket won’t move as quickly.
Step 3 – Then tie the loose end of the string to your second object (We used a second chair across the room) and make sure the string is tight. If the string isn’t tight, move the objects farther apart until it is.
Step 4 – Blow up the balloon and hold the end so the air can’t escape and use the two pieces of tape to secure the balloon to the straw.
Take a moment to make observations. What do you think will happen when the you let go of the end of the balloon? Write down your hypothesis (prediction) and then continue the experiment to test it out and to find out if you were correct.
Then move the straw and balloon to one end of the string. And once you are ready….
Step 5 – Let go of the balloon and watch what happens! Do you know what caused the balloon to rocket across the room? Find out the answer in the how does this experiment work section below. Then inflate the balloon again and repeat again and again.
The balloon flies across the string because of air and thrust. Thrust can be explained by Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. As the air is released out of the balloon in one direction, the force propels the balloon in the other direction. This equal but opposite force causes the balloon to fly across the string like a rocket!
I hope you enjoyed the experiment. Here are some printable instructions: