This semester in my STEM class I’ve been planning to do an engineering design project involving rockets with students. Our district STEM coordinator, Adam Zodrow, alerted me to the possibility of helping students create plastic “water bottle rockets” instead of Estes rocket engine powered cardboard models like they have in the past. The Instructables as well as ScienceToyMaker websites both have instructions about how to create water bottle rocket launchers out of PVC, but this weekend at the first EdCampTulsa conference in Jenks I found something which might be even better. Lisa Seay (@lisaseay), a middle school science teacher in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, shared about the PITSCO Aquaport II Water Rocket Launcher which she’s used for several years with great success. She has shared a 3 page PDF lesson plan for “Water Rocket Construction” on her outstanding website wiki. The PITSCO water rocket launcher costs about $225. I’m going to borrow Lisa’s and try it out with our after-school Maker’s club students in April, and then in May try the lesson with my 4th and 5th grade STEM students.
In doing research on water bottle rocket options, I also found the AquaPod launcher, shown in the photo below. It’s much cheaper (only $35) and has positive reviews on Amazon, but it does not have the safety valve of the PITSCO Aquaport. It also appears to be prone to launch malfunctions, as demonstrated in this UK YouTuber’s review from June 2013.
Have you tried water bottle rocket projects with students? If so, what do you recommend and what have your “lessons learned” been?
PITSCO sells a couple teacher lesson guides but I haven’t actually read either of these yet: