The Lesson

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Students will be making Film Canister rockets for this year's event. While simple, this activity incorporates math, science, engineering, and technology and can be easily scaled up or down depending on grade level. For more information about alignment visit the Standards page.


Per class of 30 students

  • 36 Pack of Alka-Seltzer ($4.29 at Target)
  • 10 film canisters ($10.99 for 25 on Amazon Prime)
  • Construction paper, cardstock, and/or cardboard to make the rocket's body
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Glue (hot glue optional)
  • Water
  • Paper towels (this can get a little messy)
  • Measuring tape or meter stick (optional)
  • Scale (optional)

step-by-step guide FOR dAY 1

Film Canister Rocket Directions
  • Feel free to use this Slide deck to explain the activity to your students or print it out for easy reference.
  • We strongly recommend you try this activity first before implementing it with students.
  • You can find printable rocket templates here.
  • Specific activity ideas can be found below in the "Share Your Lesson Ideas" section.


Have a great idea of how you will be implementing this activity in your classroom? Post it to one of the Padlets below:

Also please consider posting your ideas on social media using #oneSTEMchicago.

after the lesson - VIDEO

Show your students the videos below featuring an astrophysicist discussing the Alka-Seltzer rockets and how they relate to his work.

after the lesson - Discussion questions

Use the questions below to debrief the activity with your class.

  1. What did you explore/discover today?
  2. How does this activity link to what we've learned about in class today?
  3. What was the most difficult part of this activity? How did you deal with that difficulty and did it teach you any lessons?
  4. What skills did you learn from this activity? How can these skills help you in the future?
  5. How does this activity relate to STEM careers?
  6. Did this activity make you want to study a STEM field in college? Why or why not?

Prepping students for DAY 2

On Day 2 your class will be discussing the activity with another classroom. If you haven't already selected a partner teacher, please follow the directions on the Register page.

  1. Tell your students that they will be speaking with another classroom tomorrow. Share any details and photos you might have received from your partner teacher with your students.
  2. Have students prepare artifacts that they want to share during the conversation. This can be videos, photos, their rockets, or graphs.
  3. Have your students draft up questions to ask students in your partnering classroom. Have them write the questions on index cards so they are prepared for the conversation. Teachers with younger students, English language learners, or students with special needs might even want to write your own questions on index cards and assign them to students to ask.

Video Conferencing on Day 2

All arrangements for Day 2 are to be made between partnering teachers. You can choose to video conference using Skype or Google Hangout. Click the links for step-by-step instructions.

Share pictures and videos of your students conferencing on social media using #oneSTEMchicago. If you decide to record your video conference, please share the link on Twitter and email it to