Student Science Experiments

All of the experiments must be done in the presence of a parent or teacher.

Experiment 8: Alka Rockets


To design a paper rocket propelled by Alka-Seltzer and water to demonstrate Newton's third law of motion.

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Key Words

  • Rocketry
  • Launch
  • Pressure
  • For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

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Note: All experiments should be done using original formula effervescent Alka-Seltzer.

  • Index Card (5x8 in.)
  • Empty, film canister with lid that snaps inside
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets
  • Water
  • Metric tape measure or meter sticks

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  1. Decorate the index card. This will form the body of your rocket.
  2. Roll the index card into an 8-inch-tall tube. Slide an empty, film canister into the tube so that the canister opens at one end of the tube. Securely tape the paper to the canister. You do not want these two parts to separate.
  3. Now tape the 8-inch-long seam of the paper tube.
  4. Cut two triangular, paper fins and tape them onto the rocket.
  5. What is the function of the rocket fins?
  6. Make a small paper cone and tape it to the top of the rocket if you would like a nose cone.
  7. What is the function of the nose cone?
  8. Hold the rocket upside down and add water to the canister to one-quarter full.
  9. Add half a tablet of Alka-Seltzer to the film canister and quickly snap on the lid.
  10. Place the rocket on the ground, lid down. Stand back and count down while you are waiting for launch.

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  1. How high did the rocket go?
  2. What happened when the Alka-Seltzer was added to the water?
  3. What action happened inside the film canister?
  4. What was the reaction of the rocket?
  5. Experiment using different amounts of water or Alka-Seltzer to see how it affects the height of the rocket.
  6. Experiment to see how the weight of the rocket affects the height it travels keeping the amount of water and Alka-Seltzer constant each time.

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What is the best combination of Alka-Seltzer and water to produce the maximum launch height? What is your evidence?

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  1. Design and launch a rocket powered by two, three or more film canisters.
  2. Design and launch a rocket that launches in two stages.

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