Materials List: Aqua-Thrusters!

Each group needs:

  • 1 antacid tablet, such as Alka-Seltzer™ brand; do not use Tums™ brand; prepared by splitting in half and crushing one half-tablet into powder
  • 1 film canister; film canisters are readily available at no charge from camera shops and stores where photographic film is processed, such as grocery stores, Target, Wal-mart and Costco; these businesses recycle the canisters and are often willing to donate them for educational use; most often, they have the solid black canisters (see Figure 1, center), which are good for this activity; the elliptical-shaped canisters used for Advantix® film also work for this activity (see Figure 1, left) 

A photograph shows three types of film canisters sitting on a counter top: (left) a translucent plastic container and lid that are elliptical in shape; (center) a 35 mm photographic film canister made of black plastic with a gray overlapping cap; (right) a 35 mm photographic film canister made of translucent plastic with an inset fitted cap.
Figure 1. Example film canisters.
Copyright © 2003 Jeff White, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Boulder

  • 1 stopwatch or a clock with a second hand
  • small piece of construction paper, a strip of heavy tape (such as electrical tape), or a small cutout of dense foam
  • Aqua-Thruster Worksheet, one per student

To share with the entire class:

  • pin, to poke holes in the plastic film canister lids
  • scissors
  • blunt object such as a heavy textbook or brick
  • safety glasses, enough pairs for the largest group
  • large sink, tub or other plastic/glass container to hold water