Ray Kerins: September 12, 2017


Title Attempt for the Highest Launch of An Alka-Rocket

Ray Kerins

Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Bayer 

Earlier this year, Bayer, a global leader in health care and agriculture, and the Big Ten Conference announced a partnership to advance Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) education, a subject of great importance to both organizations.

As part of this STEM education partnership, Bayer and the Big Ten are teaming up to launch the Bayer-Big Ten Alka-Rocket® Challenge which will attempt the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the Highest launch of an Alka-Rocket. 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.  The Bayer–Big Ten Alka-Rocket Challenge is open exclusively to teams of students from each of the 14 universities in the Big Ten Conference.

Teams have until September 29, to submit their design. Dr. Mae C. 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 Space Center Houston, will judge rockets based on design, execution and creativity. Four teams will be chosen to compete on November 8 at the Space Center Houston in Houston, Texas. The winner of this challenge will win $25,000 and be recognized on December 2 at the Big Ten Football Championship Game in Indianapolis, IN.

Bayer created the Alka-Rocket Challenge and partnered with the Big Ten Conference to further generate awareness around the country’s need for more scientists, engineers and innovators.  Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are the foundations of our modern world, and foster innovation, economic competitiveness, and national security.  The Big Ten leads all athletic conferences in PhD completion in the fields of Mathematics, Engineering and Science.  Additionally, the Big Ten footprint includes six of the nation’s top 10 agriculture-producing states.

The Big Ten universities are: the 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.


Moreover, Bayer has been reaching students, teachers and parents through Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS), its company-wide initiative that advances science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science education, employee volunteerism and public education, for more than 20 years.  Alka-Rockets are a staple experiment in MSMS presentations, and are often used in science classes throughout the United States to demonstrate principles of chemistry and physics.

Did You Know?

  • In 2016, Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) impacted approximately 1.3M students and teachers across the U.S. through direct programming and funded initiatives.
  • In 2016, MSMS provided $1.8M in funding to 65 STEM programs across the United States.
  • In 2015, Bayer committed to providing 1 million hands-on experiences to students by 2020. To date, more than 550K hands-on experience have been provided.


For more information, please visit https://www.alkarocketchallenge.com/




Ray Kerins is Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Bayer.  He manages all communications, government relations, policy and advocacy for Bayer in the United States and the company’s four main businesses – Consumer Health, Crop Science, Pharmaceutical and Animal Health.  Ray oversees the Bayer USA Foundation and is a member of the Bayer U.S. Country Leadership Team.  He is the Chairman of Bayer’s political action committee.


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