Make a Teabag Rocket
In this science experiment, kids launch a burning teabag into the air like a rocket!
When the teabag rocket burns down rapidly, it causes a convection current that shoots the ash up into the sky. In this experiment, the convection current is the movement of air caused by a change in temperature. The current is created when the heat from the flame causes the air inside and just above the teabag to become hotter than the air around it. Warm air always rises, and when it does in this experiment, the cooler air rushes in to take its place. This causes an upward movement in the air. When the teabag eventually becomes an ash that is light enough to float, the upward moving air pulls it into the sky.
Warm air rises because it is less dense than cool air. This is also how hot air balloons work.
This experiment used to be done with carbon copy or "ditto" paper -- if you don't know what this is, ask someone born before 1970!
Don’t let children play with fire! Note also that this experiment should only be done with a teabag (or carbon copy paper), which burns up quickly and completely.
- Flat tea bag (the kind with a tag) - 1 total
- Matches or lighter - 1 total
- Flame-proof surface - 1 total
Cut the teabag evenly across the top closest to the end where the tag is attached.
Unfold the teabag and dump out its contents.
Open the teabag so that it resembles a tall cylinder.
Stand the teabag cylinder upright on a flameproof surface. Trim the edges to even them out if it won't stand upright.
Light the top (not the side or bottom) and watch the flame burn down to the bottom. When the flame is close to the very bottom, the remaining ashes should shoot up like a rocket. If this doesn't happen, clean off the surface and try again; sometimes the convection current created isn't just right for a blast off.