Alka-Seltzer Rockets

Overview

Students will learn about chemical reactions and Newton’s Laws of Motion by building a miniature rocket!

Experiment Length

30 min

day 8

materials
  • Paper (preferably construction paper)

  • Scissors 

  • Tape

  • Alka-Seltzer or other effervescing antacid tablet

  • Water

  • Markers, pencils, or pens

  • Film canister or other small sealed plastic container

    • Mini M&M tube, glue stick containers, non-childproof medicine bottles, small plastic paint bottles, and plastic easter eggs without holes in them also work

    • Many of the film developing centers in grocery stores or supermarkets have extra canisters and will give them away for free

steps
  1. Use scissors to cut a piece of paper in half widthwise (hamburger). 

  2. Wrap the paper around the film canister and tape so the paper covers the canister and forms a cylinder. The lid of the canister should face down and out of the tube! Tape the paper so it stays in place. 

  3. Cut and tape fins to your rocket. They can be squares or triangles. Which shape will help the rocket fly best?

  4. Make a nose by cutting a circle (like a Pac-man) and rolling it into a cone, then tape it in place and to the open end of the paper tube (on the opposite side of the lid). Why do astronauts put cones on rockets?

  5. Decorate your rocket!

  6. Find an open space outside to launch your rocket

  7. Turn your rocket upside down and fill the canister ⅓ of the way with water.

  8. Break the antacid tablets in half

  9. Drop in ½ a tablet of antacid and snap the lid on tight. 

  10. Quickly stand the rocket lid-down on the ground and stand back! Be careful when launching your rocket and make sure it’s not pointed at anyone!

  11. Once the rocket launches, you can repeat the launch by repeating steps 9-10. Try to improve your rocket and make launches higher!

the science

Engines in cars and rockets work by combusting fuel to form a gas. The gas fills up a chamber and shoots gas out the bottom of a rocket or out of the engine. This process of creating gas allows rockets to fly!

When we put the tablet into water, chemicals inside the tablet- citric acid and sodium bicarbonate- react to form a gas. The gas expands inside the container until the pressure from the gas explodes the cap off of the canister. 

When the cap explodes downward, the rocket is forced upwards. This is Newton’s Third Law in action. You might have heard “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When the cap goes down, the rocket goes up!

Taking it further

Try to improve your rocket! Is there another chemical reaction that you know which produces gas?

 

Space Exploration Games

 

Build more planes, cars, and creations!

Inspired by Space Society

Special thanks to Honor Pimentel for the Spanish translation

daily challenge

Post your photos and video on social media with #curieusinquarantine or send them to us at curieusinquarantine@curieus.org for an entry into our raffle!

We will select one lucky kid tomorrow to win a free Curieus swag bag with a Curieus shirt, stickers, and candy. Submit your entry to curieusinquarantine@curieus.org by 8 pm on Saturday, May 23rd!

Connect with us

Tax Code EIN: 83-2332724

© 2020 by Curieus

  • White YouTube Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
  • White Facebook Icon