In this activity, students make an effervescent canister rocket using baking soda and vinegar. They develop their understanding of rocket propulsion and investigate the amount of vinegar that will make the rocket go the highest.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • explain how rocket propulsion works in terms of gases being pushed out one end so that a force is exerted on the rocket in the opposite direction
  • carry out a fair test to find the amount of vinegar that makes the rocket go the highest
  • explain that pressure needs to build up inside the film canister for a successful launch
  • explain how the speed of the rocket changes as it goes up and comes back down and how these changes are related to the forces acting on it.

This activity is ideally done after the teaching and learning activity Introduction to rockets and space

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • discussion questions
  • extension ideas
  • student worksheet.

Nature of Science

In a science investigation, such as finding out the amount of vinegar that makes a film canister rocket go the highest, it is important to identify all of things that might affect the results – in this case, the height reached. Only one variable should be changed for each trial.

    Published 30 November 2011, Updated 16 June 2015