It is rocket science as NPL’s water rocket challenge attracts 60 teams

Posted on 27 Jun 2013

The National Physical Laboratory in Teddington hosted the 14th Water Rocket Challenge on June 19 and pulled in 60 teams and several hundred spectators.

Teams from as far as India, Northumbria and Wales took part in variants of the fiercely contested competition. Teams compete in either the straight line distance or the Eggstra Challenge, where a hen’s egg must be launched by water rocket and return to the ground unbroken, using pre-constructed rockets.

Team Extreme wins a category at the NPL Water Rocket Challenge

Participants can gain a British Science Association Bronze CREST Award for their efforts.

An NPL workshop helps amateur rocket scientists of any age and nerdy parents to build their own rockets from a standard design of two 2 litre water bottles, a tennis ball, plastic fins and plenty of duct tape.

“The evening event welcomes anyone – youth groups, enthusiasts and families,” says NPL’s outreach manager Andrew Hanson. “Some bring pre-built equipment to compete, others have constructed rockets and use our launchers, while complete novices can join workshops where our staff help them build rockets from scratch for launching.”

A team competes at the NPL Water Rocket Challenge

In the last 14 years, the NPL’s Water Rocket Challenge has attracted 600 teams, from local schools to schools from as far away as India.

The NPL has the world 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 Eggstra Challenge was born because a straight distance proved too hard to measure for many competitors. This event measures accuracy in range, with additional prizes for flight duration and the safe landing the egg.

A UK leader in schools engagement for science, the NPL meets about 40,000 people a year. “Water rockets is one of about 170 events we do annually,” says Mr Hanson.

Registration for 2014 will open later in 2013 and NPL has a schools open day on May 20, 2014.

In 2014 the water rocket challenge will be a special 15-year bonanza event.

Photos of this year’s event are here:

Kids and rockets: the NPL Water Rocket Challenge June 2013