• Sara Thompson

Plop-plop, fizz-fizz, liftoff

Updated: Aug 19

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise


This experiment is an oldie, but a goodie because it mixes science with art and creativity! What you will need is a film canister, water, Alka-Seltzer (or generic brand), craft supplies.

Start off by making a small rocket out of craft supplies. You can attach it to the film canister, or place it over it, but make sure you can easily put the cap on the film canister and set it up so the lid is facing down. A toilet paper tube or index cards make great materials for rockets. Make sure to add fins for a stable flight and decorate however you want.


When your rocket is finished it is time to launch it. Make sure to do this in a safe area, going outdoors is recommended, and do not point rockets at people or animals. Fill the film canister 1/3-1/2 half full of water. Break the Alka-Seltzer tabs into chunks and add about half of a tab to the canister. Quickly secure the lid, place it on the ground, and take several steps back. Remember, you want the lid of the canister to be touching the ground. After several seconds, the canister will pop open, sending your rocket soaring!


For more science fun, change the ratio of water to Alka-Seltzer tab, make different rockets. Use a watch to time how long it takes the film canister to pop, how high your rockets fly, or how long they stay in the air.


How does it work? Alka-Seltzer is a combination of an acid and a base. Just like when you add baking soda to vinegar, the two chemicals react to create carbon dioxide. When the Alka-Seltzer tab meets water, the chemicals in the tab release and mix, also creating carbon dioxide. Trapped in the canister, the gas expands quickly and needs to be released. Where the lid meets the canister is the weakest point, so that is where the gas will escape. The pressure from the gas pushes the lid off and the release launches the rocket upwards.


Remember to be safe, the rockets will fly quickly and suddenly and can hurt if you are not at a safe distance.


Campers at this week's Out of This World! camp learned about space with hands-on activities and experiments. They studied our Solar System discovering the unique features of each planet. Made a human sundial and learned about constellations.


 

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