National Physical Laboratory

Water Rocket Challenge 2018

Water Rocket ChallengeDate: Wednesday 20 June 2018
Venue: National Physical Laboratory Sports Ground, TW11 0EB
In aid of Shooting Star Chase children's hospice charity

The Challenge

The NPL Water Rocket Challenge has been running since 2003 with over 740 teams of six having participated. It has raised over £20,000 for charity and all proceeds from the day go towards the Shooting Star Chase children's hospice charity.

The enthusiasm for this event is spreading and this is your chance to get involved.

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

A day built for fun, team-building and a great spectator sport. It is a great day out which sees teams of rocketeers take to the skies with their own water rockets!

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... Liftoff!

The 2018 Water Rocket Challenge will take place on Wednesday 20 June, so save the date!

Schools – enter your team

Did you know?

NPL holds the record for making the world's largest water rocket launched in 2011. It used 140 x 2L bottles and stood 3.4 m tall.

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

The Water Rocket Challenge is open to all schools. Teams of six from many of the surrounding 42 schools have taken part in previous events and launched their school-made water rocket. So don't miss your opportunity to enter.

The schools-only competition will happen during the afternoon from 12:30–16:30.

Registration is open for this event and there are only 45 launch bays available, with only a few bays remaining, so book quickly to avoid disappointment.

Enter your company team

For company teams, this is the perfect team-building exercise – building and competing with rockets!

For the first time, we are running the 'Company Challenge'. Teams of up to six will have 90 minutes to open a box and follow enclosed instructions to create a rocket. No other equipment or prior preparation is required, but the rules and information should be read beforehand.

Company teams will then compete in the Main Challenge against each other, with an award going to the winning team. Afterwards, teams may keep all equipment they use (except pumps) and are welcome to register as regular teams in future years. Please invite your family, friends and co-workers to spectate and cheer on.


Family event – 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 in with launching from 18:30.

Registration is required, as there are limited places available.

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

Here you will find construction details, examples of launchers, photographs, scores and videos from previous years:

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



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