Camp Activity: Film Canister Rockets

Camp Activity: Film Canister Rockets

Have some fun over holiday break with these experiments!

It’s almost time for winter break for many families, which means that some parents will be scrambling around for activities to do with their kiddos. In our house that’s never a problem because we homeschool and are used to doing activities all of the time, but for many moms and dads who work or just aren’t used to being “on” all day, it can be a challenge. Fear not; here is an activity that will keep your kiddos—and you!—amused all afternoon. You could even use it for camp, or a 4-H activity like we do.

Gather together some construction paper or cardstock, enough empty film canisters with lids for each participant (you can use the same lid each time if needed), tape, some water, and some effervescent tablets. The hardest part will probably be the film canister for most people, especially if you take all digital photos; you can see if your local teacher supply store has some for purchase, too.

Flipping your canister lid-side down, make a round rocket top sides for your rocket. You can decorate it, add stickers, whatever you like with the paper/cardstock. This isn’t necessary but it’s a very fun part for the artsy kids—and you can even use this in your modification steps (more on that later).  

When you’re finished, take your rockets outside to a safe flat launching surface. Add water and effervescent tablets into the cans and quickly—very quickly!—seal them and step away. You don’t want to get smacked in the face when these things launch!

Your rocket will hopefully pop up in the air and come back down; sometimes they don’t pop much. You can experiment with modifications and variables. What if you add weight (with more decorations) or subtract it? What if you use a whole tablet, a half tablet, or even a quarter tablet for your “fuel”? How about adding or subtracting water, using another brand of tablet… Encourage your kids to come up with new variables to test. You can also measure whose rocket travels the farthest or average out the distances for a math activity.

Finally, be sure to clean up your mess and don’t leave any film canisters or paper in your launch area—especially if it’s at a public place like a park! Our 4-H team were absolute pros at picking up after themselves and it’s just another lesson on being a good citizen and environmental stewardship.