Bayer HealthCare Launches Alka-Seltzer Rocket Contest to Engage Students in STEM Education

Bayonne’s Philip G. Vroom School Team Rises to Occasion, Beating 500 New Jersey Students with Highest Rocket Launch

A team of middle school students from Philip G. Vroom School in Bayonne took the top prize in Bayer’s first-ever Alka-Seltzer® Rocket Contest at Liberty Science Center with a rocket that soared above all others to 15.3 feet on Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Former astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, the competition’s master of ceremonies, joined with executives from Bayer HealthCare Consumer Care, the maker of Alka-Seltzer® as they awarded the $1,000 prize and first-place certificate to eighth graders Bryant Davis, Fady Rezkalla, David Markos and Anthony Toledo. They were joined by partner organizations, Liberty Science Center and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Jemison, Bayer’s longtime national spokesperson for its Presidential award-winning Making Science Make Sense® program who made history as the nation’s first African-American female astronaut, led more than 500 budding New Jersey rocket scientists from some 30 middle schools around the state as they quite literally had a blast building model rockets. Jemison launched the contest with news about 100 Year Starship®, an initiative she is leading with a mission to accelerate scientific and technology innovation by pursuing human interstellar flight. Working with Liberty Science Center and Stevens Institute of Technology, Jemison then challenged students to build their own rockets.

Jemison spent the daylong competition with judges overseeing multiple team heats where students worked hand-in-hand to build and launch the highest flying rockets, furthering their science literacy skills as they learned about engineering design processes, chemical reactions, calculating velocities and acceleration. Throughout the day, students also toured the state-of-the-art Liberty Science Center and engaged its many interactive exhibitions.

“As a science-based company with a rich history supporting experiential science education and fostering science literacy for all students, Bayer’s Alka-Seltzer® Rocket Contest is the latest demonstration of this long-standing commitment,” said William B. Dodero, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Bayer HealthCare Consumer Care. “The contest shows students, teachers and parents just how fun and exciting science is and also reinforces science as something that is all around us in everyday life – whether it’s in the kitchen or medicine cabinet, the schoolyard, science center or the launch pad.”

The contest is part of Bayer’s MSMS program which advances science literacy across the United States through inquiry-based, hands-on science learning, employee volunteerism and a national public education campaign led by Jemison, who is also a scientist, chemical engineer, physician and entrepreneur. Bayer HealthCare Consumer Care in Morristown, New Jersey, is one of 12 Bayer sites nationwide that operate local MSMS programs. Together, these programs boast a cadre of more than 1,000 employee volunteers. Local MSMS volunteers, who work side by side with teachers and students in school districts including Dover, Cedar Knolls, Chester, Hanover, Morristown, Roxbury and Whippany, also were on hand at the event.

“These students are America’s next generation of inventors and innovators —aerospace engineers, astronauts and scientists– something they cannot fully realize without the kind of quality STEM education that builds a foundation to support and encourage ongoing science learning,” said Dr. Jemison. “Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense program promotes this critical learning both inside and outside the classroom with hands-on curricular enrichment programs like this Alka-Seltzer® Rocket Contest.”

Bayer, Liberty Science Center and Stevens also awarded second- and third-place prizes. The team from Wallace Primary School in Hoboken was named second-place winner with a $750 prize and the third-place winning team from Clifton Avenue Grade School in Lakewood received $500.

“Liberty Science Center strives to expose learners of all ages to the excitement of science and technology,” said Bryan Blaney, LSC’s Director of Guest Engagement. “This program offered a great opportunity for kids to get hands-on experience in the classroom and at home, culminating with a fun competition here at LSC.”

“Stevens is proud to partner with Bayer HealthCare Consumer Care on this project and to play an integral role both in the curriculum design and the professional development sessions provided to all the teachers involved,” said Arthur Camins, Director, Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) at Stevens Institute of Technology.

About Bayer HealthCare and Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS)
The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 18.6 billion (2012), is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Medical Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. Bayer HealthCare’s aim is to discover, develop, manufacture and market products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Bayer HealthCare has a global workforce of 55,300 employees (Dec 31, 2012) and is represented in more than 100 countries.

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Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) is Bayer’s company-wide initiative that advances science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science education, employee volunteerism and a public education campaign. Currently, 12 Bayer sites around the U.S. operate local MSMS programs, which together represent a national volunteer corps of more than 1,000 employees.

About Liberty Science Center
Liberty Science Center is a 300,000-square-foot learning center located in Liberty State Park on the Jersey City bank of the Hudson near the Statue of Liberty. Dedicated to bringing the excitement of science to people of all ages, Liberty Science Center houses seven museum exhibition halls, a 3D theater, the nation’s largest IMAX Dome Theater, live simulcast surgeries, tornado and hurricane-force wind simulators, K-12 classrooms and labs, and teacher-development programs. 600,000 students, teachers, and parents visit the science center each year, and tens of thousands more benefit from the center’s off-site and online programs.

About Stevens Institute
Stevens Institute of Technology The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 350 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense and STEM education. The university is the fastest-rising college in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best national universities, and it is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on investment for students, career services programs, and mid-career salaries of alumni. Stevens is in the midst of a 10-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward-looking and far-reaching institution with global impact.

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SOURCE: Bayer Corporation