On November 8, three teams of undergraduate engineering students gathered at Space Center Houston to launch rockets powered only by effervescent tablets. At stake was a Guinness World Record and a prize of $25,000 from the sponsor, Bayer. To win the Alka-Rocket Challenge, the finalists, from Northwestern, Rutgers and the University of Minnesota, went head-to-head to see whose original rocket design — plus up to 100 crushed effervescent tablets — could fly the highest.
The teams launched their rockets one after the next. Northwestern, the first team to proceed, unfortunately was disqualified after their altimeter failed and did not record the altitude. Team Rutgers suffered an accidental discharge at first but recovered with a flight of more than 60 feet in a hurry-up attempt. In the end, the team from University of Minnesota won the day, sending their rocket a record-setting 430 feet into the air.
Scientific American Custom Media was the media partner for the event, and we would like to congratulate all of the teams. Each one put forward a compelling and well-engineered design, and while University of Minnesota came out on top this time, records are meant to be broken.
To see the three teams as they prepared for the Alka-Rocket Challenge, take a look at the videos below. It is rocket science.