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How-To: Make Match Rockets

Fun & Games Science
How-To: Make Match Rockets

This is one of my favorite projects. It’s fun, cheap, hands on, and educational. My brothers taught me how to make them when I was about nine years old, but I suspect it originally dates to a time when young boys carried everything they needed in their pockets: Matches, a bit of wire, and a foil gum wrapper. Over time bits of wire gave way to paper clips and pins, and gum apparently doesn’t come in foil wrappers any more, so we’ll make do with regular aluminum foil. Here’s the full how-to with a about two dozen rocket launches included because I was having too much fun.

14 thoughts on “How-To: Make Match Rockets

  1. Smallboxadmin says:

    Thanks for the memory. I totally forgot about doing this as a kid.

  2. Daniel McCauley says:

    gotta film that with a Phantom!

  3. Cedric J says:

    When doing this with my science class,I found that if you use two pins, you get better results. After some experimentation, I found that rather than placing them on the broad, flat side of the match, if you place them on the left/right side when the match is flat, you get much more consistent ignition and distance. Enjoy!

  4. DG says:

    This trick is included in The Great International Paper Airplane Book (, so it’s at least from the 60’s.

    1. Rich says:

      These are the kinds of toys that create good engineers a decade later. We need more!!!!

    2. Grant Thurman says:

      I remember who showed this to me in 1950. My friends started carrying the materials in addition to the slingshot made from a coat-hanger, rubber bands and homemade staples as ammunition.

  5. Dave G. says:

    Great use of the giant-sized match and accessories for demonstration purposes. Nice video.

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Mark Frauenfelder is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Make: magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog.

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