Film canister rockets science experiment : Fizzics Education


Film canister rockets

Film canister rockets

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

A small film canister, you can often pick these up for free!


Bicarbonate Soda

Mixing bowl and spoon

Water and safety goggles


Bicarb film canister rocket science experiment - materials needed
1 Bicarb film canister rocket science experiment - adding bicarbonate soda to the lid of film canister

Take one teaspoon of bicarbonate soda and place it into the dish. Add 5 drops of water and mix into a thick paste.

2 Bicarb film canister rocket science experiment - adding water to the bicarbonate soda

Use the spoon to pack the bicarbonate soda paste onto the underside of the film canister lid.

3 Bicarb film canister rocket science experiment - adding bicarbonate soda to the lid of film canister

Often the clear styled film canister’s work better, as you can place the bicarbonate paste into the small well that already exists. The other bonus is that the lid tends to be tighter, thereby the rocket flies higher! Why is this so?

4 Bicarb film canister rocket science experiment - adding vinegar to the film canister

Fill your film canister halfway with vinegar. You’re ready for launch!

5 Bicarb film canister rocket science experiment - film canister with vinegar and bicarbonate soda ready to react

Gently clip the lid onto the canister, making sure that the whole lid is secure.


Making sure your safety goggles are over your eyes, turn the entire film canister upside down onto its lid on a flat surface. Stand back and watch it fly!

7 A television screen showing a distance educator running science experiment with a bell jar, vacuum pump and a cup of water. There is an inset of a remote class on the screen and a video conference camera on top of the television.
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Why Does This Happen?

This is really is just another variation on the standard volcano experiment run in classrooms around the world. The reaction is as follows

Vinegar + Bicarbonate Soda —> Carbonic Acid + Sodium Acetate

The carbonic acid is unstable though, so it breaks down into liquid water and carbon dioxide as a gas, causing the massive ‘build up’ of pressure you saw in the experiment.

Eventually the gas pressure inside needed to be released; so the lid popped off the canister, pushing against the flat surface to send the rocket in the air.

Notice the rocket has to push down to go up?

This is yet another simple demonstration of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Learn more!

From sunspots and asteroids to black holes & supernovae, the Stars & Planets and the Earth, Sun & Moon workshops have your unit on space covered!
Studying chemistry instead? Check out the chemistry show too!
Get in touch with FizzicsEd to find out how we can work with your class.


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