There are some epic STEM projects that make lasting memories for kids. DIY Stomp Rockets are definitely one of those projects. From the building phase that builds confidence in kids to the flying stage that makes kids yell “wow!” “so cool!” stomp rockets are a project for the memory books. Our family had a super-fun afternoon building and flying them! These easy to follow instructions are a sneak peek into the STEAM Explorers Superhero Activity Ebook, too!
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What is a Stomp Rocket?
A stomp rocket is a paper rocket that take flight due to pressurized air. They use an air bladder (in this one it’s a 2L bottle) to supply the air. When you stomp on the bottle, the air inside is compressed. The compressed air escapes to an area of lower pressure down the pipe and into the body of the rocket. But the rocket has a closed end and the air cannot escape and pushes downwards against the pipe, too. This causes the rocket to fly off the launcher and into the air.
Check out the DIY Stomp Rockets in action here!
How Do Rockets Fly?
Real rockets also rely upon air flow to make them fly. Their engines burn fuel which converts into hot gas. The hot gas is pushed out of the end of the engine. The rocket then relies upon Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As the hot gas is pushed downwards out of the rocket, the rocket itself flies upwards.
DIY Stomp Rocket Supplies
- 8 feet of 1/2″ diameter PVC pipe (3/4″ will work too if you have a hose attachment fitting)
- PVC pipe cutter (adults only)
- 2 Tee PVC fitting in same size as pipe
- Duct tape OR
- 3/4″ threaded hose to 3/4″ PVC pipe attachment (optional)
- Empty and clean 2L bottle
- 8 1/2” x 11” paper
- Masking tape
Build the Stomp Rocket Launcher
First you need to build the contraption that gives the rockets their air-powered “engines.”
SAFETY NOTE: Cutting PVC pipe should be done by adults or with adult supervision due to the sharp tools.
- Cut PVC pipe into the following length sections:
- 1 x 4 foot
- 4 x 1 foot
- Insert three 1 foot sections of pipe into the ends of a 3-way fitting. You now have a t-shape of pipe.
- Insert the part of the T that is at a right angle from the other to pieces from step 2 into another three-way fitting.
- Insert the 4-foot section of pipe into the opposite opening of the 3 way fitting from step 3 to make a long length of pipe.
- Insert the last 1-foot section of pipe into the remaining opening in the three-way fitting and rotate the fitting so the pipe points towards the sky. This is where your paper rocket will go.
- Insert the other end of the 4-foot pipe section into the neck of the 2L bottle about 1” and secure with duct tape. NOTE: If you have a PVC pipe to 3/4″ hose attachment piece, you can use this instead of the duct tape.)
- At the end of the T opposite to the bottle, there are open ends of pipe. Cover each with duct tape so air cannot escape.
Make the Paper Rockets
The next part of the DIY stomp rockets is to make the paper rocket. For best results, be sure that the rocket is sealed as air-tight as possible except for the part that goes onto the launcher.
- Take one of the one foot sections of pipe and wrap a piece of paper around it snugly, but not so tight it can’t be removed.
- Tape the paper cylinder to secure it.
- Close one end of the rocket by folding over the end and taping it or another preferred method.
How to Optimize Your DIY Stomp Rocket
To optimize your rocket, you have to minimize the air drag against the rocket. Real rockets use fins and nose cones to help the rocket cut through the air better. What can you add to your rocket to make it more aerodynamic?
How to Fire the DIY Stomp Rockets
Now comes the really fun part!!! These rockets go really high (ours went almost 100 feet in the air!), so be sure to pick a good location to fire them.
SAFETY NOTE: Always stay away from the rocket and ensure no one else is near the rocket when firing. Adult supervision recommended.
- To launch a rocket, place the open end of the rocket over the vertical pipe section of the launcher.
- Ensure that no one is near the rocket and step or jump onto the 2L bottle to fire.
- To inflate the bottle after each launch, place your hand around the vertical pipe piece and blow into your hand. Do not blow directly into the pipe to reduce spreading germs.
Stomp Rocket Dueling
To have a rocket battle, estimate how high your rocket flies by comparing it to landmarks. Continue to optimize your rocket for the highest flight and battle against friends and their rockets.
More Superhero STEAM Activities for Kids
These DIY Stomp Rockets are a sneak peek into our superfun Superhero-themed activity ebook for kids. This activity ebook is packed with four fun themes: Superpowers, Gadgets, Epic Battles, and Super Stories. Kids will love making a light-up superpower ring, snacking on superfood smoothies, exploring Gotham through art, creating their own comic book, and more! You’ll love the helpful standards-based learning, printables, and tools that make STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, & math) exploration easy!
Inside every STEAM Explorers ebook are:
- Projects: Hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math projects
- Printables: Fun printables for independent learning and fun
- Recipes: Delicious recipes that have a learning spin
- Learning: Interesting reading that helps kids learn about our planet on every page
- Activity Calendar: A helpful calendar to make adding STEAM to your day simple and fun.
- Supplies List: A handy supplies list for the month that makes prep easy.
- BONUS! A coupon to save 25% on a monthly STEAM Explorers subscription. That’s where you’ll find a kid-safe online portal filled with helpful activity videos, teacher lesson plans, and more.