The Honours Club encompasses students who have demonstrated exemplary performance in their academics. Periodically, the students gather after school to participate in a unique activity organized by a teacher. Recently the students were challenged to design, build and launch Alka-Seltzer rockets; the objective was to launch a rocket that remained airborne the longest. The teacher provided basic materials and discussed the chemical reactions involved, but the remainder of the work was delegated to the students. Each individual student, or pair of students, created a different rocket inspired by various understandings of physics and chemistry.
Once built, the rockets were launched in the schoolyard with the assistance of a “rocket launch pad”, Alka-Seltzer tablets, and water. During the launches, the students made many discoveries regarding variables such as water temperature and volume, presence and placement of rocket “fins”, and surface area of the Alka-Seltzer tablets. While some rockets did not achieve any vertical height, other rockets were propelled several metres upwards – to the great surprise and amusement of the observers!
This STEM related activity provides opportunity for further experimentation and discovery; many students expressed an interest in re-designing their rockets and changing the choices they made regarding the various variables involved in the launch.