This activity involves shooting a rocket high into the air by rapidly squashing a plastic bottle launcher.
It’s a great opportunity to challenge the old saying “What goes up must come down”. You won’t get this rocket into space—but some real rockets do go fast enough to prove the saying wrong.
Using this resource
- 1 mouse template
- 1 plastic milk bottle (2-litre or 3-litre bottles work best)
- Pink rubber-glove material or paper and pens (optional)
Flexible plastic bottles such as milk bottles work better than firmer fizzy-drink bottles.
Making the cone-shaped body of the rocket mouse from the template can be fiddly for younger children to do single-handedly. Ask them to work in pairs with one person holding the template in shape while the other applies tape. Or consider pre-making the cones.
Advise children not to lean over the bottle when they are launching their rocket mice. Children should lean back and squeeze or ‘clap’ the milk bottle with their arms extended. This will ensure their faces are away from the rocket mouse when it is propelled upwards.
- What is making the mouse move?
- Which direction are you applying a force? Which direction is the mouse travelling?
- What difference do the size of the bottle and the force of the push make?
- Can you think of any other ways to make the mouse move?
- Can you direct the mouse to hit a target?
- What can you do to make the mouse travel further or faster?
- What is the heaviest mouse you can launch?
Try adding measured quantities of modelling clay inside the mouse’s nose cone and make a graph of weight and height/distance travelled.
A pneumatic drill uses compressed air to move the drill bill into the concrete or rock that it needs to break. Not only is the force strong enough to break very hard materials, but also the air explodes producing noise up to 100 decibels and vibrations that can cause a condition known as ‘white finger’.
Air bags are used to raise delicate artefacts from shipwrecks, e.g. the Titanic. The pressure of the air inside is powerful enough to lift the huge weight of objects, or even pieces of the ship, through the water pressing down on them.
Download the PDF below for your students to use.
- Investigate the effects of air pressure, air resistance and gravity.
- Use observation and questioning (curiosity) skills.
- See how forces have useful and relevant applications in our everyday lives.
SMG Learning Activities – Rocket Mice (PDF Document)