Materials List: Constraints:
Pop Rockets on a Shoestring Budget

Each group needs:

  • 1 35-mm film canister with an internal snapping lid; see Figure 1 and note below

A drawing of a film clear film canister with an internal-sealing lid.
Figure 1. The type of film canister needed for this activity.
Copyright © 2003 Jeff White, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Boulder

Note: For this activity, use a film canister with an internal-sealing lid instead of one that snaps over the outside of the rim. These are usually clear, white canisters—not the solid black or gray ones. Film canisters are often available free of charge from camera shops and stores where film is processed, such as grocery stores, Target, Wal-mart, Costco, etc. These businesses recycle the canisters and are often willing to donate them for educational use. The most commonly available film canister is the solid black/gray style with the overlapping lid, which will not work for this activity, so you may have to make a few trips to these stores to get enough of the white translucent canisters with the internal-sealing lids! Alternatively, purchase the film canisters ($8.95 for 15 canisters) at

For the entire class to share:

  • clear cellophane and masking tape
  • unlined white paper
  • heavy construction paper
  • safety glasses/goggles, at least enough for the instructor and the launching group
  • paper towels
  • access to cold and hot water faucet
  • (if launching rockets inside) an empty pitcher