National Physical Laboratory

Water Rocket Challenge 2019

20th Anniversary

Water Rocket Challenge 2019Date: Wednesday 19 June 2019
Venue: National Physical Laboratory Sports Ground, TW11 0EB

The Challenge

Over the last 20 years, we have seen 740 teams participate in the NPL Water Rocket Challenge – raising over £20,000 for our chosen charity, the Shooting Star Chase children's hospice.

Get involved and witness a world record attempt!

Launch your very own water rocket with your own team of rocketeers.

Enjoy a great day out, challenge yourself and other teams, inspire students and others in the field of STEM, and witness the NPL team attempt a new water rocket world record!

Open to schools, families, friends, colleagues, universities, apprentices, youth clubs, NPL staff or anyone wishing to enter.

The aim is to launch a rocket powered by water/air pressure and land it in designated target zones, whilst trying to earn additional bonus points by time of flight. Your score will be your time in the air plus bonus seconds gained from landing in target zones.

3... 2... 1... Lift off!

The 2019 Water Rocket Challenge will take place on Wednesday 19 June, so make sure you register to ensure your place.

Spectators and supporters are welcome to the evening event!

Did you know?

NPL also constructed a water rocket powered car which featured on the Gadget Show.

We also held the record for making the world's largest water rocket, launched in 2011 – using 140 x 2L bottles and stood 3.4 m tall – and this year we are attempting a new world record!


The Water Rocket Challenge is open to all schools. Teams of six from many schools have taken part in previous events and launched their school-made water rockets. So don't miss your opportunity to enter.

The schools-only competition takes place from 11:30 – 15:30.

Please note the earlier start and finish times for the schools event.

Apprentice teams

For the first time ever, we are running a special 'Apprentice League'. No pre-preparation required, just register, then turn up on the day to be given all materials you need to participate. You can even keep the kit afterwards so that you can return in future years.

Join us from 17:00 to construct your own launcher and rockets under the supervision of an NPL Science Ambassador, which then gives you 90 minutes to prepare to compete with other teams for launching from 18:30.

Family event workshop

Family event, open teams and workshop

Our workshops are open to amateur rocket scientists of any age wanting to join in the fun and build their own rocket. Come along from 18:00 to make your own water rocket under the supervision of an NPL Science Ambassador, then join the apprentice and open teams for launching from 18:30.

Spectator sport

This is a great event to watch the teams battle it out to win, so please come along and cheer people on. A £2 entry fee will be charged, with all money raised going towards our chosen charity, the Shooting Star Chase children's hospice charity.

Water rockets are fun and easy to make

Rules and information

To make sure it's a fun, safe and enjoyable event for everyone, make sure you read the rules and information.

Download the rules and information

Below are posters of water rocket scientific facts and design tips, as well as a video made in association with a local school on the science of water rockets:

Download our comprehensive booklet about building water rockets and find hubs of water rocket knowledge to visit.

See results, photos and videos of previous Water Rocket Challenge events.



Please note that the information will not be divulged to third parties, or used without your permission