Make a tea bag rocket science experiment : Fizzics Education


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Make a tea bag rocket

Make a tea bag rocket

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

  • A tea bag that is stapled-A heat pressed sealed bag will not work
  • Matches (therefore an adult is a must!
  • Non-flammable plate


Tea bag rocket science experiment - materials needed
1 Tea bag rocket science experiment - materials needed

Do this experiment away from your curtains or anything else flammable. SAFETY FIRST!

2 Unfolding a cut tea bag

Cut the top of the bag to remove the staple.

3 Pouring out tea leaves from a tea bag onto a plate

Pour the tea leaves onto the plate and flatten them out.

4 Empty tea bag cylinder standing on a tea leaves on a plate

Open up the teabag so that it forms a cylinder.

Place the paper cylinder on top of the “Tea Leaf Launchpad” you’ve made in the previous step.

Ensure that you have set this up away from anything flammable!

5 Lighting a opened tea bag cylinder with a lit match

WITH AN ADULT light the top of the cylinder.

6 Tea bag rocket science experiment - burning tea bag

Watch the fire burn downwards. When the fire reaches the bottom your teabag rocket should lift off!


  • Sometimes the teabag grabs onto the tea leaves on the plate. Try the activity again but this time gently place the tea bag on the tea leaves as lightly as possible.
  • Different brands of tea bags burn differently. You may find that the tea bag burns so well that there is no leftover ash to rise upwards. If this is the case, try another brand.

7 A man holding a blow torch onto a white tile whilst wearing safety glasses

Get the Unit of Work on Heat Energy here!

  • What actually is heat?
  • How does heat move through different materials?
  • How does heat change the properties of materials and more!

Includes cross-curricular teaching ideas, student quizzes, a sample marking rubric, scope & sequences & more

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8 Liquifly water rocket on the grass
9 Teacher showing how to do an experiment outside to a group of kids.

Online courses for teachers & parents

– Help students learn how science really works

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Do you know why hot air rises though?

Hot air rises! You have just created a convection current of air moving inwards, towards the burning tea
bag, and rising up as a hot air column. The rocket could only rise once the tea bag became lighter (smoke has weight too!). Anyone who has seen a hot air balloon is quite aware of this basic principle.

Do you know why hot air rises though?

Heating air adds more energy to the air molecules that make air up. These molecules with extra energy move around very quickly and become more separate from each other than in the cold, low energy, air. When you separate molecules you effectively have a less dense substance.

The rules within buoyancy make less dense substances rise above more dense substances… this makes the less dense hot air rise above the cold air. The process keeps working because the cooler surrounding air keeps coming towards the light and warming up. This is a simple demonstration of convection currents that exist in thunderstorms and ocean currents.

Put simply, a convection current is the transfer of heat energy by the movement or flow of a substance from one position to another.

Variables to test

More on variables here

  • Try different types of teabags. Do they all work the same or do some burn up too much?
  • Is this possible to do this with tissue paper?
  • Is this possible to do with a roll of standard paper?

A man with a glove above a liquid nitrogen vapour cloud

Learn more!

From sunspots and asteroids to black holes & supernovae, the Stars & Planets and the Earth, Sun & Moon workshops have your unit on space covered!

Get in touch with FizzicsEd to find out how we can work with your class.


9 thoughts on “Make a tea bag rocket

    1. Hi Poppy! We use either Twinnings Teabags or Woolworths Green Teabags. Its not so much the brand, its about the teabag still having a staple in it which allows the tube of paper to be longer. Have fun 🙂

    1. It depends on the tea bag itself. It needs to be the stapled kind and for the paper to be sufficiently thick enough to burn and still leave some ash behind to catch the updraft. Let us know how you go!

  1. Would you say this falls under the topic of ‘energy makes things happen?’
    Im doing an assignment for uni and need to ensure I’m doing an experiment that means that topic area.

    1. Sure thing! You have chemical energy turning to heat energy which turns to kinetic energy which is forcing upwards against gravitational energy.
      All the best with your assignment!

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