Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Pop Top Rockets

Pop Top Rockets

Spring 2013 Toys
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Be Amazing!
Price: $24.99

"Pop Top Rockets" turns film canisters and the classic volcano reaction into a rocket launch. The kit includes citric acid (a substitute for the classic vinegar) and baking soda, a collection of film canisters, and a foam rocket to launch, along with other tools for experimentation. Seal the chemicals with water inside a film canister, and the lid explodes off. Top the canister with a rocket, and it launches fifteen feet into the air!

The reaction required a fair amount of trial-and-error experimentation to work the first time, something that I would consider more of a feature than a failing. The children tried various levels of water and reactants and learned to close the canister quickly and tightly. The "fizzer" tablets included in the kit as an alternative to the baking soda and vinegar turned out to be a disappointment (they did not dissolve fast enough to create a pop, as the gas had time to leak out despite the tight closure), but children learned that dry acids and bases can mix freely without reacting, and react vigorously once water is added. They especially loved turning the canister into a rocket. Parents were pleased that the manual laid out the activities as experiments, testing the effects of various levels of reactants and water as well as water temperature, and applying the results to various activities.

Though almost everything in the kit could be assembled at home, except the rocket and the launch tube, there are benefits to having it all prepared in advance. For one, with the growing prevalence of digital photography, plastic film canisters are harder to come across. The instruction manual is more interesting than average for this sort of kit, too, though we did wish more scientific points had been illustrated on it.

Emily Crawford   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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