Ships & Wrecks


Lesson Plan. Making a Rocket.


To get a line across a gap, based on the story of the rescue of the ‘Royal Adelaide’


Recap the story of the Royal Adelaide rescue and refer to the ideas that pupils came up with during the starter lesson at the beginning of the project.

First Activity

Discuss how it might be possible to have taken a line from the shore at Chesil Cove during the fierce storm.

Talk about the options and discuss the merits of the suggestions that children came up with.

Talk about how air can be used to move an object.

  1. Blow up a balloon and release it
    Question. What makes the balloon fly? Why does it come back to earth so soon?
  2. Rig up a simple pneumatic system.
    Question. Explain what is happening.
  3. Use a top ‘pop’ gun and/or pea shooter
    Question. As above.


In all the starter activities it is the force of the air pressure that gives the movement. In the case of the pea shooter pressure builds up to a point where something has to give way so out shoots the stopper. This fact is called the ‘Law of action and reaction’. In the main activity the action is the water forced out of the bottle top (bottom of the rocket) and the reaction is the rocket going in the opposite direction of the water. In other words for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Main Activity

Make and test the Lemonade Bottle Rocket as shown in the handout.

Extension – the best rocket!

To make the rocket look more like rocket add cardboard fins to the base and a cone to stick on the rocket top. A small weight of plasticine should be added to the top of the cone to help flight. Try different designs and different amounts of water.

Question. What design makes the most efficient rocket?

Is the best rocket the one that goes the furthest or the one that travels in the direction you intended?


Syringes and tubing
Toy ‘pop’ gun
Pea shooter (tube and pea or bead)
Lemonade bottle
Pump and adapter



To Make A Lemonade Bottle Rocket You Will Need……

A plastic bottle (small)
Bicycle pumpNeedle valve
Bicycle pump and needle valve
Long needle
Long needle

Making a lemoade Bottle Rocket

Make a hole in the cork with a thick needle and insert the needle valve.

Needle valve         Cork with needle valve

The cork needs to be about 2cm long.

Pour water into the bottle so it is about a quarter full.

Put the cork in the top of the bottle and push it in firmly

Attach the valve onto the bicycle pump

Pump and bottle

Prop up the bottle with the end pointing upwards and at an angle.


How it works

As you pump the air pressure increases. This pushes on the water and when the pressure gets too much it forces the cork out and the bottle up. (You might get wet!!)