Bottle Rocket

This experiment demonstrates how a build up in pressure can launch a rocket.

As we pump air through the water the pressure inside the bottle builds up until the force of the air pushing on the water is enough to push the cork out of the end of the bottle. The water rushes out of the bottle in one direction whilst the bottle pushes back in the other. This results in the bottle shooting upwards.

Bottle rocket

How to make a Bottle rocket

What you need

  • an empty plastic bottle
  • cardboard made into a cone and  4 fins
  • a cork
  • a pump with a needle adaptor
  • water


  • Push the needle adaptor of the pump through the cork, it needs to go all the way through so you might have to trim the cork a little bit.
  • Decorate the bottle with the cone and fins.
  • Fill the bottle one quarter full of water and push the cork in tightly.
  • Take the bottle outside  and connect the pump to the needle adaptor. Ours wouldn’t stand up on the fins so we rested it on a table, but if you make some strong fins it should stand up by itself.
  • Pump air into the bottle, making sure all spectators stand back, the bottle will lift off with force after a few seconds.




Please make sure an adult is around as the rocket takes off very suddenly and forcefully as you can see in this video clip. Do not approach the rocket once you have started pumping even if it looks like nothing is happening.

The Science bit

Space rockets work in a similar way to the bottle, but instead of squirting water they burn fuel to make a powerful jet of hot gas. The force of the gas  downwards pushes the rocket upwards.

Isaac Newton worked out the three laws of motion which describe how all objects move. The third law says:

‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’

This is demonstrated by the bottle rocket.


We recently tried a brilliant rocket kit from The Consortium which was VERY easy to use. We would definitely recommend it!

  How to make a Bottle rocket


Extension Activities

Try one of these other easy air pressure experiments, including making a fake lung, a barometer and a coin popper!

We also love this collection of fun and easy garden games.

Buy the book!

For more fun rocket science activities check out our new book This Is Rocket Science


This Is Rocket Science

Did you know we have an Early Years book available to buy too?

Science Sparks Book

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There are 78 comments

  1. Ticia

    That looks awesome. I learned the hard way not to go near projects like that after I did……. That was an unpleasant chemical burn and took a few days to stop stinging.

    I’ll have to see if we have a hand pump anywhere.

  2. Pauline

    WOAH! Look at that rocket go! Love this! I’ll be featuring this post as part of my Earth Day Activities for Kids: Upcycling roundup from the Weekly Kids Co-Op. xoxo P

  3. Whitney Coy is excited to include a photo from Science Sparks on our site! In our article we will provide a link back to your blog post. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you would prefer that we not use your photo.

  4. retired

    There is a little air leaking out when flip the bottle over. Is there a certain cork or needle I can use? Right as the bottle fills up with air it starts to leak. any advice would be appreciated.


  5. Britt

    Hi–what a fun craft! Would this work with different sized plastic bottles–such as a 16oz plastic soda bottle? Thanks!

  6. Charl

    I heart kitschy stuff. (ooh dang spelling error) I enjoy how quriky your tim horton pants are. Grr my brain is;&n39#t working otherwise I would totally have a more creative comment.

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