Launch Pad For Air-Water Rockets Is Good Clean Fun For STEM Students

We have fond memories of air-water rockets, which were always a dime store purchase for summertime fun in the pool. Despite strict guidance from mom to shoot them only straight up, the first target was invariably a brother or friend on the other side of the pool. No eyes were lost, and it was good clean fun that was mercifully free of educational value during summer break.

But now a teacher has gone and ruined all that by making an air-water rocket launching pad for his STEM students. Just kidding — [Robert Hart] must be the coolest teacher in Australia when Friday launch days roll around. [Mr. Hart] wanted a quick and easy way to safely launch air-water rockets and came up with a pretty clever system. The core task is to pump air into the partially filled water bottle and then release it cleanly. [Robert] uses quick-disconnect fittings, with the female coupling rigged to a motor through a bicycle brake cable. The control box has a compressor, the release motor, and a wireless alarm remote, all powered by a 12-volt battery. With the male coupling glued to the cap of a bottle acting as a nozzle and a quick, clean release, flights are pretty spectacular.

There are many ways to launch an air-water rocket, from the simple to the complex. [Robert]’s build leans toward the complex, but looks robust enough for repeated use and makes the launch process routine so the kids can concentrate on the aerodynamics. Or to just enjoy being outdoors and watching things fly.


24 thoughts on “Launch Pad For Air-Water Rockets Is Good Clean Fun For STEM Students

    1. I thought the same thing.
      I’m also hoping that nobody suggests heating the water used to launch the rocket.. because then misunderstanding and comment-storm!
      But seriously, it’s STEM. No need for any other letters. The video from Dankula in the other story was spot on.

    1. Good start for some kids, Really liked that your electric fidget spinner session video appeared to be largely self driven and contained no production spinners. ;) Keep up the great work.

  1. That got their attention, now to talk to them about the ideas behind it such as pressure, mass and velocity. :-) As for the maths, well that depends on their age but mentioning that you need maths to make rockets is a good motivator.

  2. I know geeks have trouble with social skills such talking to people, but those two videos are dreadful. No voice over explaining, just video snippet after video snippet.

    I’ll be blunt. I’d not going to bother to watch and rewatch something trying to make up for that lack of commentary. If you want people to understand how this air-water rocket was built, explain…. like in spoken words or at least captions. And if you have trouble with that, get someone who doesn’t to help.

    1. Found the artist ;) Seriously Robert the videos are fine for what they demo – getting kids interested in STEM. Now go find us the next Arthur Richard Newton or Cheryl Praeger.

  3. DANGER HaD… “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) has been DEPRECATED by Political Correctness (PC). It is now “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, & Mathematics)! Check your “Privilege” HaD!

    Be VERY careful HaD. It’s “STEAM” now, not “STEM”. If you don’t Comply “they” will come and BURN your house down. Definitions:

    Quoting from the above “STEAM” reference:

    “STEAM programs add art to STEM curriculum by drawing on design principles and encouraging creative solutions”

    Gee, I’m a long-time practicing Engineer (EE). I’ve always considered Engineering to be a mix of both Art (Unbounded Creativity) and Science (be Careful, or you will Blow Yourself Up!) At-least that’s what I was taught when years of Engineering School modified my Brain forever.

    So what happened to Common-Sense in our Society? Is EVERYTHING about Politics now?

  4. Am i missing something but is there a pressure release valve or sensor that detects if the air pressure is too much for the plastic bottle? although fizzy bottles can hold alot of pressure, im sure the tyre pump could exceed this??? IDK

    1. Typical plastic bottle failure is over 150 psi. Your results may be lower if the pressurization is repeated or the bottle is damaged.

      When they do rupture it can be spectacularly loud, so there is some worry there, but it’s tough to get there if for no other reason that the amount of effort to get the volume to that pressure takes a lot of energy. Worse is that much of that input energy is lost due to the heat from compression.

      I would not expect a typical tire pump to do the job.

    2. The bottle is filled with 1/3rd water and attached to the launcher. In the box there is a 12V Battery, some electronics, an air compressor and a motor that pulls a cable. It also has a 2 channel wireless remote control receiver. There is an emergency isolation switch that cuts all power to the box while loading the rocket. Students arm the launcher and stand well clear of the rocket before firing. When key 1 is pressed on a wireless remote the Compressor starts and pumps air into the bottle. There is an air pressure gauge just beside the rocket. When the needle is top dead centre it is at 70psi. When button 2 is pressed the motor pulls the cable and the rocket is released.

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