Water Rocket Lessons
Use the questions below to begin a discussion of the aeronautics of water rockets.
1. Do I have to use water? Why can't I just use pressurized air?
2. Is more water better?
3. How can I modify the design of the rocket to increase the duration of the flight?
4. What effect will the wind have on the way I launch the rocket?
5. How will the wind affect the rocket after it is launched?
6. How can I modify the design of the rocket to increase its chances of making a field goal
or reaching a goal?
Rocket Research 101: (Covers the Laws of Motion, Thrust, and Acceleration)
Objective: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the effect of changes in amounts of air and
water on the flight of the rocket.
How do you convert from PSI to Pascals?
Summarize what Newton’s Law of Motion states?
Rocket Research 102 leads you through an exploration of the flight of a bottle rocket. Stability is
critical for achieving adequate height during the flight of your rocket. Stability is provided by
aerodynamic forces on the rocket.
At the completion of Rocket Research 102, you should be able to demonstrate how to best design
your own water rocket for flight stability.
Welcome to Rocket Research 103
"Kind of a Drag"
Now that you’ve completed Rocket Research 101 and 102, you should have a good basic rocket
design. But there is another factor you must consider. In order to maximize its performance, you
want the rocket to have as little wind resistance, or “drag,” as possible.
Why? Write down two advantages of having a rocket with low air drag.
Use this chart as a guide, recording the altitude attained in each case:
Fin Style Number of Fins Size/Altitude
Other fin style 1.
Now you are ready to design your rocket. Create a quick drawing in CAD if available or graph paper if
not. Use correct sizes.
Standard pop bottle (2Liter)
1. Longest time in flight
2. Goal post Shot.
1. You will work individually to construct two water bottle rockets with empty 2-liter soda
bottles. You must decide (1) on the design you will use as a result of experimenting with
the simulators and (2) on the materials you will use for the body, fins, and cone of the
rocket (which is placed over the empty 2-liter soda bottle before launch). You will then
predict how well your rocket will fly and record your prediction on the worksheet. You
may want to customize your rockets by decorating them in some way. An example is
2. One bottle rocket launcher is needed for the class. While one team launches their rocket,
another team can assist them by tracking the rocket, determining how high it flew, and
recording the information on a worksheet. (Follow this link to learn how to measure the
altitude reached by your rockets: Model Rockets, Measured Altitude.) Then compare
your prediction with the rocket's actual performance and compare the flight of your
rocket with other rockets. Your final assignment will be a journal entry via email giving
details on your design, the comparisons you made, and your conclusions on the reasons
for the rockets' performances.
3. You must follow the safety rules launching bottle rockets. Countdowns help everybody to
know when the rocket will lift off. Using the launch safety instructions shown below,
develop specific launch safety rules through group discussions. In the rules, include how
far back observers should stand, how many people should prepare the rocket for launch,
and who should retrieve the rocket.
Review Flight of a Bottle Rocket, Rocket Aerodynamics, and Forces on a Rocket.
1. Goal, longest time in flight
2. Goal post Shot.