Age: 7 & 10

Science Co-op Session 1 Week 7: Baking Soda and Vinegar Space Rocket

Agenda:  Space Rocket

Materials Needed: baking Soda, vinegar, plastic bottle, construction paper, scissors, tape, duck tape, wine cork, plastic saran wrap, funnel, straw, paper towel

Two weeks into class, I asked Eclectic Mama is she would mind researching and running the last class.  I had a vague thought that ending our exploration of Astronomy by building a rocket was a good idea.   But I got overwhelmed by the rocket options available as I started researching so I pawned off the whole task to her instead.

Best decision ever and I will try to also ask someone else to do our last class for our next session.  They have 6 weeks to research and come up with a lesson plan and I will then have 2 weeks of recharge time.

Anyways.  As this was our last class, there was no real agenda other than to have fun building a rocket.  This took us the whole 1.5 hours because it was so so fun for the kids.

Eclectic Mama started by walking the kids through how to construct a rocket.  You turn the plastic bottle upside down, duck tape 3 paper straws to it so it can stand, then you can decorate it with a cone head and wing.

When you’re done, scoop about 2tbsp of baking soda onto a 1/3 sheet of paper towel, roll it up into a very tiny roll so it can be squeezed into the plastic bottle.  Fill your bottle 1/3 full with vinegar.  Wrap the wine cork with plastic wrap.

Now go outside where there is a clearing.  Very quickly, put the baking soda paper towel into the bottle, seal it very very very tight with the cork bottle, stand it on the ground and wait.  Here’s the video on how to stuff the baking soda and cork in.

This was one of the first launches, before we determined that really forcing the cork in helps delay the launch.

If you’re really good, the rocket can actually fly as high as a tree!  This video is two minutes of waiting for 3 seconds of screaming.  Notice how it landed in the tree!

Tips:  You don’t need a lot of baking soda, nor vinegar.  The trick is to seal your bottle very tight so that air pressure has time to build.  That is why you need the plastic wrap.  Otherwise it leaks.  Our most successful one took about 2 minutes before the cork was kicked off.  The least successful one had too much baking soda in it and started exploding while I was putting the cork in.  It actually popped twice in my hand.  

BUT, too much baking soda was part of our experiement.  We were going to try 2tbsp, 3tbsp, 4tbsp, etc.  Except the kids started by scooping as many tbsp as their age.  That’s when we learned that 2tbsp was good enough.

Another successful way was by wrapping the baking soda in saran wrap, bypass the towel, which can get bulky.  

The children named their rockets too:  伊布一號,伊布二號,鯊魚一號,飛天掃把一號,etc.

After Class Bilingual Practice 

I forgot to mention this in my last 6 posts.  The dinner after class, I always ask the children to tell their father what they did that day.  There are several reasons for this.  One, I’m gauging what they remember and learned from the class, making sure to supply forgotten vocabulary when they can’t remember.  Two, they will remember more when they need to recall and describe an event in their own words.   Lastly, so they learn the English vocabulary of whatever they learned in Chinese.

Our bilingual education really comes from our dinner conversations.

Other Resources

Before class, the children watched a ton of video on space exploration.  They love the Space Oddity song and have been asking for me to play it whenever we have a chance.  The following one has a Chinese caption.


This playlist features Chris Hadfield, the person who sang the song.  It’s also Chinese captioned.  We went through the playlist in an afternoon.

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