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Film canister rocket

You will need:

  • A small film canister, you can often pick these up for free!
  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate Soda
  • Mixing bowl and spoon
  • Water and safety goggles

    film canisters



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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Amazing Book Front Cover; Ben Newsome, teacher & founder of Fizzics Education. Be Amazing -how to teach science the way primary kids love
Be Amazing!
How to teach science, the way primary kids love

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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.

Other air pressure based science experiments

Back to force & movement experiments

Back to kitchen chemistry science experiments

Back to space science experiments

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