Materials List: Water Bottle Rockets

To share with the entire class:

  • equipment and Internet access to show the class an online video
  • (optional) awards for winning team(s), such as treats or privileges

Mini-activity materials to be used with the entire class:

  • wind vane apparatus (built by teacher in advance for Center of Drag Mini-Activity #1)
    • 2 identical pieces of thin corrugated cardboard stock, each ~2 x 5-inches in size
    • two 6-inch lengths of stiff steel wire, such as landscape flag stock; the wire must be thinner than the cardboard thickness
    • 12-inch length of 2 x 4 piece of wood
    • drill and a small drill bit that is the same diameter as the stiff steel wire
    • electric fan
  • weighted dowel (built by teacher in advance for Center of Mass Mini-Activity #2)
    • 3-foot length of ½-1-inch diameter (wooden) dowel/bar or (light aluminum stock) rod, etc.
    • 4 rolls of pennies
    • duct tape
    • various classroom objects to test the center of mass, such as rulers, yardsticks, pencils, erasers, irregularly shaped objects, etc.; one per student pair
    • (optional) a ruler with a roll of pennies to be taped at various positions
  • 2 chairs with wheels (for Momentum and Impulse Mini-Activity #3); rolling office chairs work well
  • water bottle rocket launcher, such as the Aquapod Bottle Launcher
  • bicycle pump with pressure gauge, needed for the bottle launcher; note: do not use mechanically compressed air with launchers built with PVC pipe!
  • clear packaging tape, at least 2 rolls
  • duct tape, at least 2 rolls
  • 5-7 quarters; other coins may work, too
  • (optional) various parachute materials (such as plastic bags) and line materials (such as twine, thread, string, 3/16-inch curling ribbon)
  • stopwatch
  • tape measure
  • safety glasses, at least two pair

Each group needs:

  • two 2-liter soda bottles; one bottle serves as the pressure vessel for the rocket; (optional) the other as a nose cone for a parachute; for best fit in the rocket launcher, use Pepsi and Coca-Cola product bottles
  • 2 manila folders or cardboard, from which to construct fins
  • duct or packing tape
  • 1 large plastic garbage bag, to be used for the parachute
  • string, to attach the plastic bag to the rocket
  • scissors
  • marker that writes on plastic
  • weight to adjust center of mass (5-7 quarters, clay, balled-up paper, etc.)
  • paper (or science notebooks) and pencils for notes, predictions, hypotheses, explanations, sketches  
  • Initial Design Worksheet, one per student
  • Revised Design Worksheet, one per student
  • Water Rockets Distance Competition Rules or Water Rockets Hang Time Competition Rules, one per group