Welcome to Science Expeditions Extras!
Dive deeper into your science kit’s theme and experiments. This month, learn a little extra about aerodynamics.

In the early 1900s, Russian physicist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky hypothesized that we could launch rockets into space. He studied how rockets were propelled, came up with new, more efficient designs and invented the science of “rocket dynamics,” which we still rely on today. Tsiolkovsky’s work turned our eyes to the stars, and inspired a new era of space exploration.

Learn about how rockets and other objects move through the air by completing your experiments. If you need help, watch a tutorial video on how to build your air-powered rocket. Explore more about the field of aerodynamics by tracking orbits with a printable activity and flipping through the photo gallery.

checklist iconWhat Will You Need?

Gather the household items from the list below before you begin your experiments. Check off items as you go or print the list here. All other materials are included in your kit.

Air-powered Rocket
 markets, crayons, pencils, etc. (optional)
clear tape
 masking tape

 large, smooth flat surface, like a table

Ball Launcher

Fun Facts

Commercial airliners fly at cruising speeds of 550-600 miles per hour.

At any given time, there are somewhere between 500,000 to 1 million people flying in airplanes around the world.

Hundreds of years ago, rockets were used to make fireworks for celebrations in China.

Aunt Charlie’s Corner

Aunt Charlie’s Corner

Expert tips to complete this month’s science experiments!

Icon Air-Powered Rocket

Watch this experiment!

  • Safety first — Aim your rocket away from other people, animals and fragile items.
  • Holes in your nosecone or between the air tube and chamber may slow down your rocket. Be sure to seal gaps tightly with tape.
  • Space out your fins evenly by making marks around your rocket before you tape the fins down. Once taped, they may be difficult to readjust.
  • Use the rocket template as a guide, and with more paper, design new rockets to launch! Try shaping the nosecone differently or adding bigger fins.

Icon Hovercraft

  • Blowing up a balloon can be tricky! Ask an adult to help inflate the balloon, if needed.
  • Do not tie the opening of the balloon closed. Twist it instead. This gives the air a way to escape and propel your hovercraft.
  • Leaks between the foam circle and plastic disk may slow down your hovercraft. Be sure to seal gaps tightly with clay.

Icon Ball Launcher

  • Widen the slits of the cylinder with an index card first. This will make it easier to insert the rubber bands into the slits.
  • To launch, squeeze the sides of the cylinder. Experiment by squeezing with varying degrees of pressure and by launching from different angles.
  • Safety first — Aim your cylinder away from other people, animals and fragile items when launching.
  • Play a game with your launcher: Make targets out of boxes and try to launch the ball into the box.

Learn how celestial objects and spacecrafts move through space by tracking your own orbit around the Sun.

Download the printable here.

Aerodynamics Printable


Check out a few vehicles that fly and glide!

Flip through the gallery.

Airbus A380 Flying in the Sky

The double-decker airbus A380 is one of the largest commercial aircraft. It can carry more than 500 passengers and its wingspan is almost the length of a football field.

Lake Baikal, Russia

Khivus is a type of hovercraft that can travel across the icy waters of Lake Baikal. These hovercrafts can travel over 60 miles per hour!

Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

The Russian space program launched Soyuz TMA-18 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The mission carried an international (Russian and American) crew to the International Space Station in April 2010.

Swiss Alps, Switzerland

A hang glider is a small un-motorized aircraft made up of a cloth and metal frame. The flier launches the aircraft off steep inclines by foot.

Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA

In February 2011, NASA launched Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy’s Space Center in Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. This was the last mission for the Discovery. Watch how the rocket begins to curve!

Explore More

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