Make reindeer fly this winter using just a couple of common household materials! Not only will the kids LOVE making and launching reindeer rockets, they will also learn about the fizzy chemical reaction that makes it possible. Move over, Rudolph, we’ve got a new generation of flying reindeer!
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To make our reindeer rockets we gathered a few simple materials:
- 35mm film canisters (Grab them on Amazon HERE.)
- Googly eyes
- Pom poms
- Pipe cleaners (Also called chenille stems)
- Random bits of cloth, ribbons, and/or felt
- Permanent marker
- Hot glue gun
- Alka-Seltzer tablets
We turned the film canister upside down (with the lid on the bottom) and spent some time crafting to make our cute reindeer. We used the hot glue gun to attach googly eyes and a pom pom for the nose. To make antlers we wrapped the pipe cleaners around a pencil to make them curly and then attached them onto the film canister with hot glue.
There is no right or wrong way to do it! Some of our reindeer wore scarves, others had capes, and still others were riding in a space ship! Some members of our family used a permanent marker to draw a mouth or a design on their reindeer. I love how unique each reindeer rocket turned out.
From our experience with Easter egg rockets I knew that launching reindeer rockets would be messy.
We gathered up our film canister reindeer, the Alka-Seltzer tablets, and a pitcher full of water and headed outside. These really fly high so I definitely recommend launching them outside!
A Note About Safety: I highly recommend wearing eye protection when launching reindeer rockets. They can shoot up high and fast! If the kids don’t have safety goggles make sure they stand back several feet. You may want to try launching a few rockets on your own, just to see how they work, before inviting the kids to join in.
Launching Reindeer Rockets
This is the really exciting part! We filled the film canister about halfway with water. Quickly, we dropped half of an Alka-Seltzer tablet into the film canister, sealed the lid on, and placed the rocket on the ground with the lid side down. Then we stood back and waited for the reindeer to fly!
The suspense was killer! Sometimes the rocket launched in 10 seconds and sometimes it took about 30 seconds for the reindeer rocket to blast off. The kids jumped and squealed and laughed as they watched their reindeer soar into the sky.
We experimented with adding more or less water and with using a whole Alka-Seltzer tablet instead of half of one. We got awesome lift off every time and had fun coming up with the optimal combination of ingredients.
Why Do They Fly?
Alka-Seltzer is made of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), which is a base. When the tablets are dry, the acid and base powders don’t mix, but as soon as they are immersed in water they mix and react to form carbon dioxide. This is what causes the explosion.
It is actually the same chemical reaction that happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar together. An acid plus a base mix to form carbon dioxide gas, which are the bubbles you see. That carbon dioxide gas makes the pressure inside the reindeer rocket grow until the top finally flies up into the air!