How a Match Rocket WorksNewton's Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The 'action' in this project is provided by the combustion that occurs at the match head. The combustion products (hot gas and smoke) are ejected by the match. You will form a foil exhaust port to force the combustion products out in a specific direction. The 'reaction' will be the movement of the rocket in the opposite direction.
The size of the exhaust port can be controlled to vary the amount of thrust. Newton's Second Law of Motion states that the force (thrust) is product of the mass escaping the rocket and its acceleration. In this project, the mass of smoke and gas produced by the match is essentially the same whether you have a large combustion chamber or a small one. The speed at which the gas escapes depends on the size of the exhaust port. A larger opening will allow the combustion product to escape before much pressure builds up; a smaller opening will compress the combustion products so they can be ejected more quickly. You can experiment with the engine to see how changing the size of the exhaust port affects the distance the rocket will travel.
Match Rocket Materials
- matches - either paper matches or wooden matches will work
- paperclips (optional)