Physics at the University of Virginia
Academics People Research Announcements Facilities Adminstration Home Updates

Return to Demo Lab Homepage

Al Tobias (wat4y) - Office: Gibson S123 & Physics 218, (434) 924-0538

Physics Demo Manual

Demonstrations are cataloged according to PIRA Bibliography


Due to Physics Building renovations, the lead time to set up demo requests has increased due to the need to transport equipment across campus. Please be kind and let me know well ahead of time what you need.

Choose a Topic or Enter a keyword to search:
I cannot find what I want!

You have selected the following Demos:
  • None Selected

Choose a subtopic:
(Clicking a green button will add that demo to your list)
 Motion In One Dimension
 Motion In Two Dimensions
 Newton's First Law
 Newton's Second Law
 Newton's Third Law
 Statics Of Rigid Bodies
 Applications Of Newton's Laws
 Work and Energy
 Egg in a Sheet
 Reaction Cars
  video  - Ballistics on Air Track
 Ballistic Pendulum
 Fire Extinguisher Rocket Cart
 Water Rocket
 Rocket Tricycle
 Methanol Rocket (Explode a Milk Jug)
 Match Rocket
  video  - 2-Liter Bottle Rocket
  video  - Hovercraft
  video  - Air Track Collisions
  video  - Newton's Cradle Collisions
  video  - Battering Ram Collisions
 Gauss Gun - Elastic and Inelastic Collisions
  video  - Double Ball Bounce
  video  - Air Table Collisions
 Rotational Motion
 Properties of Matter

Water Rocket


To illustrate Newton's third law.


Place water in rocket with funnel and fill to indicated level. Slide rocket nozzle into pump and secure. Pump the rocket not more than 10 times as the rocket has been flown by very poorly trained pilots in the past and has suffered many hard wall injuries and may explode if too much pressure is applied. Hold rocket and pump horizontally and release by sliding back catch. Students usually get wet during this demo so it is best done at the end of class.

An alternative more powerful version of the demo is available (see 2nd picture). In fact one can run this version even without water. Place the 2L rocket onto the nozzle and secure with the U-shaped pin. Connect the hose either to the compressed air outlet or a hand pump (the nozzle is available). Pumped to a desired pressure and release the pin by pulling on the attached string.


For alternative version replace the Teflon tape wrap on the nozzle if the air leak during pumping is too strong.


  • Beaker of water
  • Funnel
  • Hand Pump
  • Water Rocket