Wonderstruck Rocket Cars (Outdoor) Workshop

Wonderstruck Ltd

A very watery team-based, practical, competitive activity.  Best booked for the summer term in the UK!

This workshop involves participants working in small teams (usually of three) to build and improve a model car powered by a water rocket.

The session starts with an introduction to the science behind the activity.  We can use the Wonderstruck Hoverchair and some of our finest alcohol powered rockets to demonstrate Newton's Third Law of Motion.  We also cover energy transformations, pressure, force and acceleration, friction and the idea of fair tests and the purpose of taking multiple results and averaging.

In their teams, participants first build a prototype car to a set design.  They test this car by timing it over a fixed distance and calculating the average speed.  Teams can then explore ways of improving the performance of the car.  This can be done by changing wheels or reservoir sizes.  Teams can also consider the relative amounts of water and air stored in the reservoir - the compressed air is storing the required energy but the water is providing the mass needed to produce the thrust.  Altering the proprtions can drastically affect the performance of the car.  Another key factor is the diameter of the nozzle that the water is pushed out of the car through.  A large diameter results in a large, short-lived thrust that can be hard to control and a small diameter results in a smaller, longer duration thrust that produces less acceleration but for a longer period of time.

There's the potential for some calculus there for post-16 students!

The whole session ends with an exciting time trial race off to find the ultimate champions (winners cups are supplied!).

We can generally run this workshop with up to 100 participants and with age groups from 7 to adult.  We can cater for larger groups but it depends on the availability of playground space as cars need to be tested and raced on a decent sized tarmac playground. 

The standard version of the workshop takes about 2 hours with 100 participants, slightly longer with larger groups.


Expected outcomes

Specific learning outcomes are differentiated according to the age group participating in the workshop.  With younger groups, for example, we may just focus on how the car produces a 'push' to make it move.

With older/more able groups we can look at the relationship between thrust, pressure and nozzle area and even introduce new concepts such as impulse, if appropriate. 

In general, the activity involves:

  • Understanding the relationship between forces and motion
  • Understanding the basic idea of Newton's Third Law of Motion
  • Using the relationship between speed, distance and time to calculate average speed
  • Understanding the concept of pressure

​We're happy to emphasise particular topic areas to tie in with your teaching - just let us know!







To book this activity, please contact:
Peter Wright

Brandize Hill Farm
EX20 3HW
United Kingdom

The STEM Directory is provided as a service to support you in finding enrichment opportunities. The activities are offered by external providers and are not endorsed by STEM Learning. We are not responsible for their content or delivery.


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