Explore Thrust with This Exciting Rocket Experiment


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  800 Fort Negley Blvd., Nashville, TN 37203

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DIY Science

We are proud to offer fun DIY science experiments the whole family can enjoy! We hope you'l have fun digging into the subjects below, and we can't wait to see you at the museum.

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ROCKETS RED GLARE by Bethany Caldwell, Science Educator

3... 2... 1... BLAST OFF!

"By the rockets' red glare..." is a famous verse and favorite of ours from our National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." What better way to celebrate this awesome song and our nation's birthday than with your own little rocket scientist? Learn about propulsion together as you try out this fun and simple DIY experiment at home! 


  • Two Chairs
  • String
  • Straw (plastic or reusable)
  • Tape
  • Red Balloon
  • Scissors


  1. Place your two chairs a few feet apart from one another with the backs facing each other (as pictured).
  2. Measure your string and cut a length of it that will easily stretch between both chairs. Tie off one end securely to one of your chairs.
  3. Take the straw and thread it through the string and tie that remaining end to the chair. You can tape each end for a more secure hold as well.
  4. Blow up the balloon but, don’t let go!
  5. Tape the balloon to the string. Let go and watch as your rocket blasts off towards the other chair!

The Science

Thrust is the name of the game in this rocketry experiment. As the air rushes out of the balloon, it is thrust forward. When a real rocket takes off, its fuel is mixed and forced out of the bottom of the rocket, creating thrust as the rocket goes up... up... and away, leaving behind its stunning, red glare!

Further Exploration

  • Use different balloon shapes and sizes! Do smaller balloons go faster than bigger ones or vice versa? Why do you think that is?
  • What happens if you move the chairs further apart? Do you need a larger balloon for this distance?
Posted by Anna Leigh Goolsby at 11:37 AM