Paper Rockets

SUBJECT: Rocketry

TOPIC: Stability

DESCRIPTION: Small flying rockets to make out of paper and propel with air blown through a straw.


EDITED BY: Roger Storm, NASA Glenn Research Center


Paper Rockets MATERIALS:

  • Scrap bond paper
  • Cellophane tape
  • Scissors
  • Sharpened fat pencil
  • Milkshake straw (slightly thinner than pencil)


  1. Cut a narrow rectangular strip of paper about 5 inches long and roll it tightly around the fat pencil. Tape the cylinder and remove it from the pencil.


  2. Cut crown points into one end of the cylinder and slip it back onto the pencil.


  3. Slide the crown points to the pencil tip and squeeze the points together and tape them together to seal the end to form a nose cone (the pencil point provides support for taping). An alternative to the crown points is to just fold over one end of the tube and seal it with tape.


  4. Remove the cylinder from the pencil and gently blow into the open end to check for leaks. If air easily escapes, use more tape to seal the leaks.


  5. Cut out two sets of fins using the pattern and fold according to instructions. Tape the fins near the open end of the cylinder. The tabs make taping easy.



Slip the straw into the rocket's opening. Point the rocket towards a safe direction, sharply blow through the straw. The rocket will shoot away. Be careful not to aim the rocket towards anyone because the rocket could poke an eye.

DISCUSSION: Paper rockets demonstrate how rockets fly through the atmosphere and the importance of having fins for control. For experimental purposes, try building a rocket with no fins and one with the fins in the front to see how they will fly. Practice flying the rockets on a ballistic trajectory towards a target. Also try making a rocket with wings so that it will glide.