Bottle Rocket Workshop

During fall semester 2008, we developed BLAST OFF!, a 3-hour workshop about rocketry.

We have hosted over 100 students on Olin's campus over the past few years for BLAST OFF! workshops. Every one of them got to design and build their own rocket using an empty 2L bottle, foam core fins, paper nose cones, and plenty of duct tape. 

During the workshop, students learn about propulsion, fins, and nosecones through interactive demos that give them a taste of scientific experimentation and real-world engineering. At the end, each student launches their own rocket! We often see student-designed rockets fly over 300 feet in the air, well above the four-story buildings here on campus.

Strap on your safety glasses and check out the action-packed activities below that lead up to launch!

Aerodynamics in action!

2) What are fins for?
Explore the crucial engineering concept of feedback

Engage in design trade-offs and model-based experimentation

4) Construction
Manage materials, weight, and budget concerns. Make the rocket your own!

5) Launch!
The ultimate test of engineering and design.

Needless to say, this is one of our favorite activities. We continue to revise this curriculum every semester to make it more engaging and fun.

BLAST OFF! Workshop Goals
  • Expose kids to hands-on engineering project from start to finish
    • Design, Construction, and Execution
  • Allow open-ended decision-making opportunities with no single best answer
    • How many fins should a rocket have? 
    • What kind of nose cone is best?
  • Explain fundamental physics and aerodynamics concepts
    • Drag, Lift, Propulsion, Pressure
  • Introduce concept of controlling the behavior of a system through careful design
    • Rocket fins as a stabilization mechanism to reduce wobbling in-flight
  • Show off advanced tools and methods for studying aerodynamics and control
    • Use wind tunnel to study fin placement