G3 Program 12: Soda Geysers & Film Canister Rockets!

For our big summer finale, I wanted all of our G3 scientists to have some ‘fun in the sun’ with some nifty (and sometimes messy) experiments. So we experienced the joy of some basic chemical reactions and created both soda geysers and film canister rockets! In both experiments, carbon dioxide gas plays a key role.

I used information from Science Bob’s web site to help us create our cool film canister rockets. The basic ingredients for this experiment are:

  • 1 empty 35 mm film canister  [If you can’t find any around the house, you can purchase these online]
  • 1 Alka-Seltzer tablet cut in half
  • 1 tsp. water

You simply put 1 tsp. of water in the film canister, add 1/2 tablet of Alka-Seltzer, firmly put the cap back on the container, put it lid-side down on a flat surface (preferably outdoors), and then stand back and wait for the reaction. The Alka-Seltzer reacts with the water and releases carbon dioxide. When the carbon dioxide expands so much that it no longer fits inside the sealed film canister, the canister blows apart and it shoots straight up into the air. Here is a fun video of Science Bob’s guest appearance on the Jimmy Kimel show…with film canister rockets galore!

Our second experiment of the day was the famous diet coke/mentos soda geyser!  Information on the soda geyser experiment can be found just about everywhere online. But one scientist who has made the experiment famous is Steve Spangler. You can find details about the experiment on his web site. The basic ingredients for this experiment are:

  • 2 liter bottle of diet coke (or other diet soda)
  • 1 roll of mint mentos candy (must be the candy, not the gum)

You can purchase a handy launching device for the mentos, but there are also instructions for simply rolling up a tube of paper and creating your own launch device. [For our programs, I purchased a few launching devices to give us some easier launches.]  While the experiment can work using various types of soda, the hands-down favorite appears to be diet coke (so that’s what most of our soda was). There are various theories for why diet coke is a champion product, but using a diet soda is definitely preferred since there is less sugar in the soda and thus less sticky mess after the eruption 🙂 When the mentos is dropped into the soda, it helps to break apart the water molecule bonds that surround the carbon dioxide molecules…which allows the cardon dioxide to expand dramatically, and very quickly. Hence, the soda geyser eruption.

A video of one of our G3 scientists creating his soda geyser in the parking lot was posted on the Cheshire Public Library Facebook page with parental permission. The title of the post was “Soda Geyser” and it was posted on August 10th. More than one G3 scientists opted to “bathe” in the sweet soda spray of a geyser 🙂 Here’s another video, showing a world record soda geyser attempt by “Mr. O” from the Houston Children’s Museum…

The G3 summer programs were a lot of fun. Look for more G3 throughout the year. The next registration period for Tracks A & B opens up on August 15th for programs beginning in September 2012. I hope to see you in the Fall! Enjoy the last days of your summer vacation, my G3 scientists…

 

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