Into the Skies with Rocket Science
School’s back in session and we hope everyone is back into their routine and moving forward with learning! Speaking of movement, here’s a fun way to explore chemical reactions and pressure by making your very own rocket. Warning – this really does work, so be sure to partner with an adult and wear your safety goggles!
- 1 Film Canister
- Alka-Seltzer or another brand of fizzing antacid tablet
- Safety Goggles
- Pencil and paper
- Put on your goggles and go outside to do this experiment. Be sure you have plenty of space to see the rocket fly.
- Break the antacid tablet into two pieces.
- Put one tsp of water into the film canister. Now it’s time to move like The Flash!
- Quickly drop one of the pieces of the tablet into the water and put on the canister lid tightly.
- Turn the canister upside down and put it on the ground (With cap side down). Step back!
- Count the time. Within a few seconds, the film canister should shoot into the air like a little rocket.
- Make note of the time it took to launch. What might affect launch time?
- Try the experiment again, but this time, use a different amount of water. Make note of how long it takes to launch. What could be the difference?
Vroom! What Happened?
Antacid tablets contain citric acid, and sodium bicarbonate, AKA baking soda. When this is added to water, a chemical reaction takes place and causes the tablet to fizz and produce carbon dioxide gas. When the lid is placed on the canister, the gas builds up inside of the container. The cap blasts off when the gas takes the path of least resistance and forces the lid off. When upside down, this shoots the canister into the air.
Expand on the experiment by trying different amounts of water, fewer antacid tablets, or try putting paper fins on the canister to see if you can direct the launch. Be safe and have fun!