Hero's Engine - Testing Newton's 3rd

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Testing Thrust with a Water Propelled Can

The goal of this activity is for students to investigate Newton’s third law of motion using thrust produced by falling water (also called Hero’s Engine). Small groups will use soda cans to make water propelled engines. Then they will test ways to increase the action-reaction thrust produced by water shooting out of holes punched in the can sides. (Most appropriate for grade levels 5-10.)

NOTE: Please have your students collect (empty and clean) pop cans. 
Each group of students will need 4-8 cans for the activity. 
Cans should have the tabs intact and not be dented.

Lesson Time: 50 minutes

Student Activity
: This activity teaches students about Hero’s Engine (an ancient Greek engineer). Small groups will make their “engines” by punching holes into aluminum cans, and then submersing them into water; seeing the force of thrust in action.

They will continue tests by changing variables.

Group work: Students will work in groups of 3-4 students. In order to save time, teachers are asked to create the groups before our Wizard arrives.

4.PS.2: Energy can be transferred from one location to another or can be transformed from one form to another
5.PS.1: The amount of change in movement of an object is based on the mass of the object and the amount of force exerted
6.PS.4: An object’s motion can be described by its speed and the direction it is moving
7.PS.3: Energy can be transformed or transferred, but is never lost
7.PS.4: Energy can be transferred through a variety of ways
8.PS.2: Forces can act to change the motion of objects

P.F.1: Newton’s laws applied to complex problems
P.F.5: Air resistance and drag
PS.FM.2: Forces • Force diagrams • Types of forces (gravity, friction, normal, tension) • Field model for forces at a distance PS.FM.3: Dynamics (how forces affect motion) • Objects at rest • Objects moving with constant velocity • Accelerating objects