Contact Us

For advice about planning a visit please contact us on 020 7942 4777 or email us.

Teacher News

Receive monthly updates about what's new from the Science Museum to support your teaching.

Rocket mice

 
 

Overview

Materials needed

  • 1 mouse template
  • 1 plastic milk bottle (2-litre or 3-litre bottles work best)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Pink rubber-glove material or paper and pens (optional)

Practicalities

Flexible plastic bottles such as milk bottles work better than firmer fizzy-drink bottles.

Making the cone-shaped body of the rocket mouse from the template can be fiddly for younger children to do single-handedly. Ask them to work in pairs with one person holding the template in shape while the other applies tape. Or consider pre-making the cones.

Health and safety

Advise children not to lean over the bottle when they are launching their rocket mice. Children should lean back and squeeze or 'clap' the milk bottle with their arms extended. This will ensure their faces are away from the rocket mouse when it is propelled upwards.

Discussion

  • What is making the mouse move?
  • Which direction are you applying a force? Which direction is the mouse travelling?
  • What difference do the size of the bottle and the force of the push make?
  • Can you think of any other ways to make the mouse move?

Extensions

  • Can you direct the mouse to hit a target?
  • What can you do to make the mouse travel further or faster?
  • What is the heaviest mouse you can launch?

Try adding measured quantities of modelling clay inside the mouse’s nose cone and make a graph of weight and height/distance travelled.

Links to everyday life

A pneumatic drill uses compressed air to move the drill bill into the concrete or rock that it needs to break. Not only is the force strong enough to break very hard materials, but also the air explodes producing noise up to 100 decibels and vibrations that can cause a condition known as ‘white finger’.

Air bags are used to raise delicate artefacts from shipwrecks, e.g. the Titanic. The pressure of the air inside is powerful enough to lift the huge weight of objects, or even pieces of the ship, through the water pressing down on them.