National Physical Laboratory

Water Rocket Challenge 2019

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

The Challenge

Over 740 teams have participated in the NPL Water Rocket Challenge over the years. 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 2019 Water Rocket Challenge will take place on Wednesday 19 June, so save the date!

Spectators and supporters are welcome!


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 12:00 –16:00.

Company teams

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

For the first time, in 2018, we ran the 'Company Challenge'. Teams of up to six 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.

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