Who says science isn’t fun? Build this five-minute rocket and you’ll have hours of fun. Plus you might learn a thing or two about propulsion systems and rocket design along the way.

To get started, you’ll need the following items:

  • scissors
  • tape
  • glue
  • rocket fuel (Alka-Seltzer® tablets)
  • water
  • rocket motor (an empty 35-millimeter Fuji Film canister)
  • rocket plans (make your own designs and see which work best)


1. Design your rocket. A simple cylinder, nose cone, and a pair of fins will suffice. Use bond paper or Bristol board to draw your plan. Your final rocket should stand about 6 inches tall and be approximately 1 3/8 inches in diameter.

2. Cut out your rocket components (e.g., cylinder, nose cone, and fins), tape or glue them together, and test-fit your assembly over the film canister cap.

3. Open the film canister and drop one-half of an Alka-Seltzer tablet into the bottom portion.

4. Do this step extremely quickly. Fill the canister half full of water, snap the canister cap into place, slide the rocket over the cap, and GET BACK!

5. Pop, fizz, whoosh! Houston, we have lift-off.

You can also follow along with the simple instructions in the following video and you’ll be blasting off in five minutes.

For more interesting information about Earth, space, and technology, visit the NASA Space Place.

This experiment is excerpted from 101 Outer Space Projects for the Evil Genius by Dave Prochnow (McGraw-Hill, 2007).