Air pressure is quite a big concept to explain to children… or adults for that matter!
I wanted to come up with a simple hands-on science experiment for kids to understand the basic concept of air pressure, and came up with this simple rocket science experiment.
This science experiment for kids teaches Newton’s Second Law of Motion, “The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.”
Or, to put it in simpler terms, by exerting force on an object, we see an equal change in that object’s acceleration (or movement). We can come to understand how one action can have a reaction.
Materials Needed for Rocket Science Experiment for Kids
Simply print off the free rocket printable and have your child decorate it to their heart’s content.
Help them cut out the rockets and glue the two rockets together so that the outlined and decorated sides face out, but only place glue along the top and side edges so that you can insert a drinking straw through the bottom. (Do not place glue in the middle of the rocket or along the bottom.)
Once the glue is dry, find a wide open space (outside is great) and insert your drinking straw into your rocket.
Blow into the straw and send the rocket blasting off into “space!”
While this can just be a fun activity without scientific explanation, I think providing some scientific information about how this science experiment works can create interest in the wonder of science and will encourage children to develop a scientific mind.
How this Science Experiment for Kids Works:
By blowing through the straw, you are increasing the air pressure within the straw, as the greater the concentration (amount) of air, the stronger the air pressure.
The air will want to return to a normal pressure state (equilibrium) and will want to escape this high-pressure straw and will exit wherever it can find least resistance.
If you are pushing air into the straw on one end, that end is not a good option for the air to escape as you are creating resistance.
The straw won’t explode because the air pressure created by blowing into the straw is not enough to rupture the bonds of the molecules holding the straw together.
The other end of the straw is only covered up by a loosely attached piece of paper, so that is the path of least resistance for the air to escape. When that concentration of air pressure escapes the straw, it exerts all of the extra force from the straw onto the rocket — forcing it off of the straw and projecting it as far as the pressure allows.
The rocket will fly further if a greater amount of pressure is exerted onto it, or if you blow harder. It will have a shorter flight if you blow softer.
Air pressure can also lead into some fun experiments to explore how air pressure can create interesting and unexpected reactions — like using air pressure to create a vacuum with a water glass.
Please let me know if you end up trying this rocket science experiment for kids!
What’s your favourite science experiment for kids?
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