Rocket Nose Cone Science

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Author: Hunter J.



A water bottle rocket is a rocket made out of a 2 liter bottle. It uses a launcher made out of pvc pipe or a rubber stopper, to launch the rocket into the air. Once you have attached the rocket to the launcher you pump up the bottle to the desired pressure with the bike pump. You then pull the string which releases the rocket and causes it to soar into the air. This demonstrates Newton’s Third Law of Motion. For all action forces there is an equal and opposite reaction force. This is what makes the rocket launch into the air.

This experiment tested what type of nose cone attached to a water rocket would allow the rocket to stay in the air for the longest period of time. I used three different types of nose cones. These types were parabola, hemisphere, and cone. I also had a rocket without a nose cone for my control. What I did in this experiment was I built a homemade bottle launcher out of ½ inch pvc pipe. I then launched each type of rocket 30 times, and recorded the time the rockets stayed in the air.

In this experiment I proved that my hypothesis was correct. Attaching the parabola nose cone to the rocket proved to be the best way to reduce the drag on the rocket and allow it to stay in the air the longest. It had an average of 3.5 seconds in the air. The second best nose cone was the cone, with an average of 3.29 seconds. The third best nose cone was the hemisphere with an average of 3.2 seconds. The rocket with the least time in the air was the control with no nose cone. It had an average of 3.01 seconds. This experiment proved that adding any type of nose cone to a rocket is better that not having one at all.


7th and 8th Grade

Difficulty of Project
Safety Issues

The rocket launches at a very high rate of speed.

Time Taken to Complete Project
5 weeks


This experiment tested what type of nose cone is best to use on a water bottle rocket. My goal was to find what shape of nose cone would cause the rocket to stay in the air for the greatest amount of time.

Materials and Equipment/Ingredients

  • 75 cm ½ inch pvc pipe
  • 20 cm ½ pvc pipe
  • 30 cm ½ inch pvc pipe
  • 40 cm ½ inch pvc pipe
  • (4) ½ inch pvc elbows
  • 45 cm ½ inch pvc pipe with release
  • 13 cm ½ inch pvc pipe
  • 6 cm 1 ½ inch pvc pipe
  • hose clamp
  • (9) 25 cm plastic ties
  • Duct tape
  • Pvc cement
  • 230 cm string
  • ½ inch pvc end caps
  • (5) 15 cm plastic ties
  • ½ inch pvc tee elbow
  • (4) 2 liter soda bottles
  • 25 cm by 9.5 cm foam cone
  • 5 cm by 9.5 cm foam hemisphere
  • 5 cm by 8.5 cm foam parabola shaped cone
  • Hot glue gun
  • Stopwatch
  • (16) 5 inch by 8 inch index cards
  • Scotch tape
  • 60 liters of cold water

The materials were found at the hardware store, the grocery store, and the auto parts store.  They were readily available and found at many common stores.


I have always been interested in rocketry. At the age of eight I built my first rocket powered only by water. From then on, I have been experimenting and testing new ways to make the rocket stay in the air for the longest amount of time. I have tested what is the best type of fin to put on the rocket, how much water to put in the rocket, and even how much weight to add to the rocket. In this experiment I tested what was the best nose cone to attach to a water bottle rocket.

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