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8th Grade Core
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Bull’s Eye

Your goal will be to utilize the friction of air to control a device! You will be designing and testing an air powered rocket. Using the effects of air friction on the fins of the rocket to control the motion of the rocket.


  • Craft paper
  • Clear tape
  • Scissors
  • Sharpened fat pencil (or regular pencil slightly larger in diameter than the straw)
  • Straw (slightly thinner in diameter than pencil)
Safety concerns: Be sure to keep all sharp safety rules. As with all science lab activities, the most important safety rule is to follow all teacher directions.


  1. Cut a rectangular piece of paper approximately five inches by 2 inches.
  2. Wrap the paper around a fat pencil.
  3. Tape the paper lengthwise and remove the pencil.

  1. Cut five to six short slits (1/2 to 3/4 inch in length) on one end of the paper tube.
  2. Slip the tube back over the pencil with the slits at the sharpened edge of the pencil.
  1. Then, slip the tube back over the pencil with the slits at the sharpened edge of the pencil.
  2. Squeeze the slits together around the pencil tip, and tape them together. Remove the pencil. This sealed end of the tube forms the nosecone of your rocket.
  3. Blow gently into the open end of the tube to check for air leaks. If air easily leaks out, use more tape to seal the leaks.
  1. Cut out four fins similar to the photograph below. (Or modify the fins to test your own design!)
  2. Attach the fins to your rocket with tape.

Flying Your Rocket

Slide the rocket over the straw. Blow sharply and forcefully through the straw, launching your rocket forward.



  1. Which fin design flew the straightest?
    • Why do you believe this was the case?
  2. Describe what allows a fin to affect the motion of a rocket?
  3. What other variations to this activity could you do to test the effects of fins on rocket flight?

Review Science safetey rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 8th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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