Alka-Seltzer Rocket Science Experiment
Blast off this high-flying missile, fueled by everyone's fave antacid!
- Rocket launcher:Your kid.
- Safety technician:You. You'll need this title so you can yell "Stand back!" with authority.
- A few old-school film canisters:You may have to try out different canisters before you get a rocket that blasts off successfully. If the lid fits too loosely or snugly, it won't work. Try the kind with the lid that fits inside the canister for best results. And grab more than one, in case your kid loses his rocket in orbit. (Hey, NASA does it all the time!) Check with your local photo shop to see if they can cough up some used film canisters for you or buy them in bulk online at Educational Innovations.
- A bunch of Original Formula Effervescent Alka-Seltzer tablets
- Warm water
- A container for the water
- Red construction paper
- Red, yellow or orange ribbon
- Butter knife
- Help your kid roll a small piece of construction paper into a cone, sized to fit around the film canister.
- Have your kid place the film canister upside-down on the table (with the lid end on the table) and help him tape the cone securely to the canister with the pointy end of the cone pointing toward the ceiling.
- Have your kid draw a little window and other rocket-ship-like details on the cone.
- Cut several 3- or 4-inch pieces of ribbon and invite Junior to tape them around the perimeter of the canister lid to simulate rocket-launching flames.
- Next, fill a container with very warm water and use the butter knife to cut a few Alka-Seltzer tablets in half.
- Then, head outside, away from any windows, and have your kid fill the film canister a little less than half full with some water.
- Have him drop in one of the Alka-Seltzer halves and quickly snap the film canister shut.
- Place the "rocket" on the ground, pointy-side up, and step back.
- 3, 2, 1 ... blast off! The rocket will go soaring into the air.
- Try it again, this time with warmer water. The warmer the water, the higher the rocket will fly.
- Clean the film canister between launches to make sure there is no Alka-Seltzer debris that will prevent the next launch from working.
- This trick is addictive. Your kid's going to want to do it again and again. In fact, he'll be so engrossed, we bet you'll be singing, "Oh what a relief it is ..." to have your kid occupied for 20 minutes!"
- How does this work? A chemical reaction occurs between the water and the Alka-Seltzer tablet, creating carbon dioxide bubbles. The CO2 gas builds up pressure inside the film canister until the force is so great it shoots the "rocket" into the air.
- Check out these other cool at-home science experiments!