Exploring Homemade Rockets

Key concepts
Chemical reactions

Have you ever marveled at how fireworks, toy rockets or real spacecraft can launch into the air? It can be an amazing thing to witness. It is thrilling to see something lift off against Earth's gravity. The strong push required to launch a spacecraft comes from a chemical reaction in its rockets. This means that every time you see a spacecraft launch, you're watching chemistry at work. In this activity you'll get to blast an object into the air using two simple household ingredients: baking soda and vinegar. Investigate how to mix these chemicals to get the best lift off, and then this Independence Day you could give your family a homemade, gravity-defying show!

How to explain Conduction,Convection and Radiation

Heat flows.
liquid crystal thermal postcard shows conduction
Liquid Crystal thermometers

Liquid crystal thermometers portray temperatures as colors and can be used to follow temperature changes caused by heat flow. They can be used to observe that heat flows by conduction, convection, and radiation.
  • Liquid crystal thermometer
  • stopwatch
  • ruler
  • flat pieces of metal, about an inch wide and at least four inches long
  • adhesive to attach liquid crystal material to the metal pieces
  • lightbulb
  • hot and cold water in open top containers
  • a thermometer
Four explorations follow:
  1. How liquid crystal postcards work
  2. Conduction
  3. Convection
  4. Radiation.

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How To Build a Matchbox Pinhole Camera ?

The Box

Remove the inner part of the matchbox, the match tray. Mark out a 24mm square exactly in the centre of the match tray. Alternatively, if you want standard format rectangular photos (some photo labs will find these easier to print) mark out a 36mm x 24mm rectangle. Carefully cut out the frame shape with a sharp knife, keeping the edges as neat as possible, or if you prefer, make it messy, it's up to you! Any rough edges and card fibres will appear around the edges of each photo.
To reduce internal reflections in the camera, colour in the inside of the tray with a black felt tipped pen.