What Puts the Fizz in Alka-Seltzer(TM)
Youth will have the opportunity to observe a chemical
reaction that has an everyday application.
- Science Process Skills
- effervescent pain relief tablets such as
- empty film canister - black type with grey
- clear plastic cup
- paper towels for clean up
- Doing the Activity
- Read the label on the tablet package. What
chemicals are in the tablet? Some of the chemicals can
be found in your kitchen, sodium bicarbonate is baking
- Place a tablet in the clear plastic cup and add
water. Observe what happens.
- Place one half of a tablet in your film
- Predict what will happen if you add water and then
place the lid on the canister.
- Caution: Make sure and point the canister away
from yourself or anyone in your group. Add water and
snap on the lid. Observe what happens.
- Experiment with your film canister and additional
- Share your results with the rest of the group.
- What happened when you added the water to the
- What do you think gives the tablet it's fizz?
- What gas do you think is produced?
- Can you think of a way that we might test to see
what type of gas it is?
- What happened when you put the tablet in the film
canister and added water?
- What did you find out when you did further
experiments with your film canister?
- Did you try anything different? What happened? For
example - adding more water, crushing the tablet,
adding more tablets, shaking the canister, putting
additional tablets in water that had already
- Challenges (Generalizing)
- Let's have a fizzing mini-explosion race! The goal of
the race is to get the lid to pop off the canister as
many times as you can. Decide how much water and tablets
you will use. Remember that your goal is to get the
canister lid to pop off as many times as possible. After
each POP! you will need to quickly replace the lid and
then get the lid to POP! again. Once the race starts you
can not add any additional water or tablets. Are you
ready - get set - GO!
- How many POPS! did you get?
- Who won the race?
- How did they win the race?
- More Challenges (Apply)
- Design an experiment to find out how water
temperature effects the tablets. Share the experiment
and results with the group.
- Use a tablet to power a film canister rocket. (the
clear film canisters work best for rockets) Decide how
much water and how many tablets will make your rocket
fly the highest. Decorate your canister to look like a
rocket. Add fins and a nose cone. Tape your tablet(s)
to the inside lid of the film canister. Add water to
the canister. Place the lid on the canister. Go
outside. Quickly turn the canister upside down and
place it on the ground. Move back and start your
countdown. 3, 2, 1 blast off! How high did your rocket
- What's Happening
- A chemical reaction occurs when the sodium
bicarbonate of the tablet mixes with water. The reaction
releases carbon dioxide which can be seen as bubbles in
the water. The tablets are an antacid. An antacid is a
strong base that helps to neutralize or decrease the acid
levels in the stomach. This change in the acid level
helps to relieve indigestion and heartburn.
- Activity Source
- Fizz, Bubble, and Goo, Iowa State University
Extension- Science, Engineering and Technology Youth
Initiative, Ames, IA, 50011 (not for