Week 9 – Aquathruster (no photos yet)

Students will learn about the concept of thrust and simple chemistry. Students will make an “aquathruster” or speed boat using film canisters. Poke a small pinhole in the cap of the film canister that’s close to the edge. Use soda tablets to generate thrust inside the film canister. Full tutorial here.

A photograph shows a film canister with a red keel adhered to it with black electrical tape.
Source Credit: TeachEngineering.com

Inquiry Question: how can we increase the speed (velocity) of the aquathruster, how can we make it run straight, and how can we make it run longer? Answer: turn the Alka-Seltzer tablet into powder, higher surface area = more place to react. Vitamin C tablets can be an alternative to seltzer tablets. To make it run straight, see the next paragraph.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Here, students will also learn what a keel is (to make sure the thruster moves in a straight line.
  • Students will learn simple chemistry: Baking soda (base) + citric acid = CO2 bubbles

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