Ready to Launch!

Last week St Louis School held a STEM Challenge Morning, where each classroom took part in a hands-on exercise to encourage critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication.

Mrs. Yuska’s homeroom was challenged to design a launch pad that would be effective for the launch of chemically-powered rockets made from empty two-liter soda bottles.

Teams of Seventh Grade rocket engineers used the school’s field as a launch area and tested various designs to experimentally determine the best one. Mrs. Yuska and Mrs. Whiteford culminated the event with the launch of an unmodified “control” rocket that actually achieved the highest altitude.

The bottle rockets were powered by combining baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3) and vinegar (acetic acid, CH3COOH), forming an energetic acid/base reaction. This results in carbonic acid, which quickly breaks down into water and carbon dioxide (CO2), along with sodium acetate. The buildup of CO2 creates pressure inside the bottle and eventually pushes the cork out of the bottle top.

Students learned the practical application of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. After the cork is ejected, the CO2 accelerates out of the bottom of the rocket, pushing the rocket upwards with great speed! #BeaKnight#STEMatSLS Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Schools