Using Graphite to Build a High Powered Rocket in High School Science Classes
Semco are the graphite experts, no matter how obscure or rare the application. One of those obscure graphite applications, but also one of our favorite projects to assist with, is high school rocketry. Very simple rockets can be constructed with household props, but when a science class wants to get a bit more advanced, graphite components become necessary. And it just feels really good to say that what we do is rocket science.
Rockets are a common project for science classes, and students and teachers have many options to choose from when it comes to the type of rocket that they can make in the laboratory. The purpose of these projects is generally to illustrate certain properties of water, chemical reactions, and air currents. Most rocket projects are created with relatively simple props. For instance, one of the most basic rockets to make is a water pressure rocket. With this model, a two-liter bottle is filled with water, and pressure is pumped into the bottle until it launches. The water pressure is the force that launches this type of rocket. A device, made of PVC piping, is constructed to pump pressure into the bottle. When launched, this rocket will get everyone in the surrounding area wet. Another common rocket type, familiar to many high school chemistry classes and youtube viewers, is the breath mint–diet cola rocket. The components for this rocket are even easier to come by than those of the water rocket—a quick trip to the 7-Eleven and you’ve got everything you need. Mentos brand breath mints and diet cola make a strong chemical reaction when mixed which propels the rocket into the air when the bottle is pointed downward and the cap is removed. Alternatively, if the bottle is standing upright, a stream of cola will shoot up. If you want to interest a child in chemistry, there’s no quicker way to do it than constructing one of these homemade rockets.
Some high school science departments offer programs in Experimental Powered Rocketry. In these programs, ambitious young scientists and their teachers use more serious propellant to make real rockets. Here is where graphite applications are used extensively. The most important graphite component of these high-powered rockets is the graphite nozzle (part of the motor assembly). Some high schools have particularly well-equipped makers labs with 3D printers and CNC machines. In the case of these schools, teachers and students can do the graphite fabrication themselves.
We are happy to work with these schools to supply the raw material for these graphite components. In cases where schools do not have the capacity to machine the parts themselves, Semco can work with the program director to fabricate the finished machined parts. We are leaders in precision graphite manufacturing, and can machine graphite components to the teacher’s, or students’, specifications, then have the components delivered to the school. If we are being honest, we’d also love to help build the rockets (and launch them!)—we are engineers, after all.
Semco is proud to be associated with high school projects in the field of Experimental Powered Rocketry. These projects allow our young scientists to develop the necessary skills to become the next engineers who will take us to Mars and beyond.