Do you know the quickest way to get a bunch of boys aged between 5 – 11 interested in doing an activity? Tell them you are going to play with matches and set something off. I’ve never seen them move so quickly. Before we start though let me assure you, the only person who got to “play” with matches was me. Setting off matchstick rockets can be dangerous. I know these children well and they also know that I don’t play around when it comes to their safety. If they don’t follow my rules, they don’t get to take part.
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You will need:
- Match box
- Hole Punch
- Tea candle
- Tin foil
- Wooden kebab stick
- Long Nosed Pliers
How to make the matchstick rockets
Start by drawing out these measurements onto your tin foil and cut them out. Put aside the square to save for later.
Cut the very tip off the kebab stick then cut it so it is about 16cm long. Discard the left over part as you wont be needing it.
Next cut the head of the match off; you will need this part but can get rid of the rest of it.
Place the head of the match and the kebab stick onto your tin foil and roll it up so that it is tight. The head of the match shouldn’t be at the very end. You need to leave a bit of a gap.
Take the long nosed pliers and use them to create a pointed nose for your rocket. This is why you needed to leave a bit of space between the top of the foil and where you placed the match.
Now you will need you the square piece of foil. Fold into a triangle, then fold it again into a smaller one. Cut off the tip. When you open it back up you should have a square with a hole in the middle. This will be the tail of your rocket.
I found this next part easier to do if the rocket stayed on the kebab stick. You are less likely to accidentally close the opening. Dab a little bit of glue to the end of your rocket and slide the square into place. To get the fins you will need to push the sides of the square in.
Your rocket is now ready for launch.
Creating the rocket launcher
Empty out your box of matches and put them out of reach of any children. Take your hole punch and create one hole near to the opening in the lid. Pull out the tray slightly and place the kebab stick in the hole so that it is at an angle.
Setting off your matchstick rockets
The instructions we followed said to place a lit candle under the rocket. The heat will light the match head and send if shooting off.
HOWEVER, we happened to do this on a really windy day and we couldn’t even get our matches to stay lite to light the candle. We tried moving to a more protected spot but that didn’t work. We tried using a lighter, but I ended up burning myself. In the end we moved it into the garage and had it facing out the door while I used a kitchen blow torch (the ones used on crème brûlée). This did the trick and our rockets did in fact zoom off.
I would say we had a 50:50 success rate. The ones that didn’t work and just caught alight were ones that were either not wrapped tight enough or their cones hadn’t been pinched enough. Though that didn’t really matter to my charge’s and their friends. They just enjoyed seeing which ones would fly and which ones would burn.
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