Propulsion is a force that pushes or drives an object forward. When an object is pushed both forwards and upwards at the same time, we have what is known as a propulsion system. A great example of something that uses a propulsion system is an airplane! The jets of an airplane produce a gas known as exhaust which, when forced out the back of the plane by the engine, propels (pushes) the airplane forward. Before building your film canister rockets be sure to check out this fun experiment to create your own propulsion system!

In this project you will create a chemical reaction using an Alkaline Seltzer tables. When the AlkaSeltzer tablet and water are mixed, a chemical reaction occurs that creates carbon dioxide, a gas. The fact that the reaction is happening in a tightly-sealed container means that the gas expands rapidly, creating enough pressure to pop the lid off and push the canister up!

Ready to make a film canister rockets at home or in your classroom? Gather the materials listed at the right, and follow the instructions below!

Required Materials

  • film canister
  • Alka Seltzer tablet
  • foam or other light weight decorations

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1

Decorate your rocket using the foam sheets. be sure not to decorate the cap as this will be the bottom of your rocket.

Step 2

Put on safety goggles or protective eye wear (sunglasses or glasses) and head outside.

Step 3

Break the antacid tablet in half.

Step 4

Remove the lid from the film canister and put a teaspoon of water into the canister. About a half and inch.

Step 5

Quickly drop the tablet half into the canister and snap the cap onto the canister (make sure that it snaps on tightly.)

Step 6

Put the canister on the ground CAP SIDE DOWN and STEP BACK.

Step 7

About 5-10 seconds later, you will hear a POP! and the film canister will launch into the air!