National Physical Laboratory

Water Rocket Challenge 2011

Water Rocket Challenge 2011Rockets filled the skies over Teddington on Wednesday 15 June. It is not as scary as it sounds - these were water rockets launched by teams competing in the National Physical Laboratory's Annual Water Rocket Challenge.

This year, 820 rockets were launched, to varying degrees of success, by teams from local schools, youth groups, families and individuals. Some teams also took on the 'egg-stra' challenge of attempting to launch an egg without it breaking!

Just to add to the evening's excitement, NPL also set a world record for the largest water rocket launched – built from over 100 fizzy drink bottles and measuring 3.4m long!

Congratulations to the winners and participants of the event, which was the biggest and best ever.

Schools Event

Of 45 teams registered: 36 teams arrived from 34 schools; the furthest travelled was from Copenhagen, Denmark. One team (the 'Brothers of Doom') sold commemorative teddies raising £75 for the event's charity, Shooting Star CHASE.

1st Prize - Team Infinity and Beyond from Broadwater School, Godalming
2nd Prize - Team Larkmead Longshots from Larkmead School, Abingdon
3rd Prize - Team Bedfont from Bedfont Primary School
Flight Duration Award - Team H2Rocket from Ewell Castle School

During the afternoon, 'special' awards were given out by a clone of Albert Einstein. These prizes included 'Best Launch Mechanism' presented to H2Go, which was based on a Star Wars Imperial Walker whose body closely resembled a defunct TV set.

20 teams took part in the Eggstra Challenge to commemorate 50 years of man in space, requiring them to launch and safely land a raw hen's egg. The success rate was 75%.

To keep the crowds busy both in the afternoon and evening, the Army Air Corps brought a Gazelle helicopter for photo opportunities and a very realistic Apache helicopter simulator. Also in evidence was a Stixx engineering challenge (build the largest model rocket using rolled up newspaper, though magazine racks, wastepaper baskets and shelters were also built!) and rocket demos from the Mindset educational resources charity.

Full list of scores for the schools event here

"We were teaching force and wanted to concentrate on a great force related science activity. We found your competition online and thought - we just have to participate."
  Copenhagen International School.

"After 7 years of being involved in NPL's water rocket challenge, I'm delighted that the project has now become a Design and Technology curricular activity. We put an entire year group through it for a term, with the best team winning a slot at your event."
  Gareth McCarthy, Head of Science, Grey Court School.

"Thank you ever so much for organising this event again this year. Our students all had a lovely day. We had boys from Year 7 to Year 9 in the team and some sixth form student 'helpers' who all loved the day. The youngsters particularly enjoyed the add-on activities. Before we got on the minibus to go home, I had the first "We are coming back next year, aren't we?"
  Chris Roffey, Science Teacher, Ewell Castle School.

Public Event

14 teams pre-registered and two more turned up on the night. Despite poor weather, a record crowd of 250 spectators attended.

Over 60 people joined the workshops to make and launch 30 rockets between them.

Awards were given out by Her Worship the Mayor of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Councillor Clare Head.

1st Prize - Team Nano Express
2nd Prize - Team Chipmonks
3rd Prize - Team Scuds R Us (who also won the Flight Duration Award)

The NPL workshop constructed the world's largest water rocket, comprising 120 two-litre bottles reaching a height of 3.4 m (the previous record holder was 2 m. The flight lasted 8 seconds, considerably shorter than the time spent by 14 volunteers pressurising it.

"I took my son along to the event and we managed to get a workshop slot. Our rocket may not have won any prizes but it did make it as far as the first barrier and we felt proud. We both thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The helpers were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, helpful (whilst letting you have a go) and were happy to answer all of my curious 6 year olds questions (which is no mean feat). He made lots of Stixx and sculpted them with enthusiastic support of the helpers. He sat in the helicopter and flicked all the switches. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun. His comment as we left was: "That was fantastic." I look forward to coming along next year."
  Mrs H.

Full list of scores for the evening event here

Find out more about NPL's Water Rocket Challenge

Last Updated: 5 Jul 2011
Created: 17 Jun 2011

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