Bayer Teams Up with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ and the Big Ten Athletic Conference To Launch the Bayer-Big Ten Alka-Rocket Challenge

Calling all aspiring rocketeers at the nation’s Big Ten universities who are ready and set to blast their way into GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS history.

Bayer announced today a call for entries to the Bayer-Big Ten Alka-Rocket Challenge, an out-of-this-world competition to design and launch an Alka-Rocket that will attempt to set the first-ever GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for Highest launch of an Alka-Rocket*.

The Challenge is open to teams of students from each of the 14 universities in the Big Ten Conference, the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States. Teams will compete in the challenge for a cash award of $25,000 and for a place in the annals of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.  The winning team will also be recognized on the field during the Big Ten Football Championship Game in Indianapolis, Ind., on Dec. 2.

Bayer created the Challenge and partnered with the Big Ten to further generate awareness around the country’s need for more scientists, engineers and innovators through the company’s longstanding commitment to science literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.  Science, technology, engineering, and math are the foundations of our modern world, fostering innovation, economic competitiveness, and national security.  The Big Ten leads all athletic conferences in PhD completion in the fields of Mathematics, Engineering and Science.

An Alka-Rocket is a model rocket often built using a 35mm film canister and propelled by the chemical reaction that occurs when effervescent tablets are mixed with water.  Alka-Rockets are a staple experiment in Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) science-literacy initiative, and are often used in science classes throughout the United States to demonstrate principles of chemistry and physics.

“In addition to athletic dominance, Big Ten universities boast some of the nation’s top science, engineering and mathematics programs,” said Raymond F. Kerins Jr., Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Bayer.  “Bayer could find no better partner for the Challenge than the Big Ten universities that are preparing our future scientists and engineers.”

Big Ten universities can submit their proposals to compete in the Challenge by Sept. 29 by visiting  Four universities will be announced as finalists on Oct. 16.  On Nov. 8, the finalists will gather at NASA’s Houston Space Center in Texas to launch their rockets and attempt the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title.

An internationally recognized panel of judges will review the submissions and choose the finalists.  The judges include: Dr. Mae Jemison, NASA astronaut and the first African-American woman in space and science literacy leader; Cliff Ransom, Executive Editor of Scientific American Custom Media; and Dave Brown, Space Center University Coordinator of Houston Space Center.  These judges will determine the finalists based on design, execution and creativity.

“It’s wonderful to see an experiment I’ve done so frequently with elementary students in Making Science Make Sense programs be the focus of a Big Ten college competition,” said Dr. Jemison.  “I know that the Big Ten students will not only be excited about the challenge of launching their Alka-Rockets, but will also raise awareness of the satisfaction and fun that is part and parcel of science.”

Competition guidelines/rules and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available on the website,

The Big Ten universities are University of Illinois, Indiana University, the University of Iowa, the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Nebraska, Northwestern University, the Ohio State University, the Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University and the University of Wisconsin.

*The official title recognized and recorded by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS is Highest launch of an effervescent tablet.