You can encourage students to take a more hands-on approach to science using common household items. Alka-Seltzer is a familiar item found in many household medicine cabinets. It is often used in science projects because it reveals a chemical reaction when added to liquids. There are plenty of science projects for all age groups that incorporate Alka-Seltzer in the experimentation process.
Paper Alka Rocket
The purpose of this experiment is to explain physics and Newton's third law. Newton's third law of motion explains two forces called action and reaction -- that for every action there is an equal and/or opposite reaction. Construct a paper rocket using the largest index cards you can find. After you make the paper rocket, you can see how much force is needed to launch it. This is where the Alka-Seltzer comes in. When Alka-Seltzer and water are combined in a closed canister, they will create an eruption. Fill a canister with water; the amount of water varies for each rocket launch. You can chart how different amounts of water and Alka-Seltzer affect the propulsion of the rocket. Set the paper rocket on top of the canister lid. Open the lid slightly and drop as many Alka-Seltzer tablets in the water as you want, then quickly close the lid. Record each combination of Alka-Seltzer and water, and determine which combination makes the rocket launch the highest.
Explaining How Carbon Dioxide is Created
This experiment demonstrates how two different substances form a brand new substance or chemical, specifically carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless gas that is used for many purposes. We need carbon dioxide to breathe, we add carbon dioxide to carbonated beverages, and we add carbon dioxide to aerosol sprays and fire extinguishers. In this experiment you will combine Alka-Seltzer and vinegar to create gas bubbles. These gas bubbles will cause a balloon to inflate. Pour vinegar into a small soda bottle; fill it halfway. Crush enough Alka-Seltzer tablets to make 2 tsp. Use a funnel to pour the powdery Alka-Seltzer into the balloon. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the top of the balloon, and use your free hand to stretch the neck of the balloon over the neck of the soda bottle. Let the top of the balloon go so the powder will fall into the vinegar. Shake the bottle to see what happens. Record your data.
How Temperature Affects the Rate of Reaction
The principle behind this experiment is to prove that a rise in temperature will increase the chemical rate of reaction. You will do this experiment twice. Make three glasses of water; make one cup of hot water from the kitchen tap, one cup of cold water from the kitchen tap, and one cup of room-temperature water from the kitchen tap. Use a thermometer to gauge the difference in temperatures. Drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in each cup of water one at a time and record the time it takes for each tablet to fully dissolve. The second time around, make one cup of cold water and add ice; heat water until you see bubbles for the hot cup of water; and leave a cup of water out on the counter for a few hours for the room-temperature cup of water. Use your thermometer to record the temperature of each cup of water. One at a time, drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in each cup of water. Record how long it takes for each tablet to completely dissolve.
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