Rocket Science: Rocket Poppers
Rocket poppers are easy to make and a lot of fun. Even grownups like
to play with them. They can be used indoors if you have a room with a high
ceiling and you don't mind a messy floor, but outdoors is the preferred
- A collection of plastic 35mm film cannisters. The clear plastic Fuji
film cannisters seem to work best, but try a couple of styles. Local photoprocessing
places will usually donate a couple of dozen for a good cause.
- As many of the cheapest generic Alka-Seltzer-type tablets that you
- Portable water supplies: buckets, pitchers, drinking bottles, etc.
- The safety-conscious may want safety goggles.
- If indoors, mops or a wet vac to clean up.
Once you demonstrate how it works, everyone will one to try it for themselves.
Begin by opening up a seltzer packet so that the tablet is at hand.
Next, open the film cannister, and pour a small amount of water
into the cannister. Drop the seltzer tablet into the cannister, snap the
lid in place, and put the cannister lid down on the ground. Step
back. After a few seconds, the cannister will leap into the air with a
Notes and Precautions
- Seltzer tablets can be re-used two or three times if you are quick.
The longer they are in water, the shorter their lifetime.
- Re-used seltzer tablets will take longer to pop than new ones. Remind
people that if they stand over the popper staring at it, they could get
a surprise when it finally pops. If they have a dud, they should pick up
the cannister from the side, not from above.
- The residue from the tablets will make it hard to seal the lid on the
cannister after several uses. Rinse the cannister periodically for best
Next: some things to think about!
This activity has been copied, with permission, from Alaska's
Poker Flat Research Range server to ours, to allow faster access from
our web site.
We encourage you to explore the original site.
Return to Reach Out! Home
To Reach Out!
volunteer organization at the University of Michigan