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WOW! in the Classroom

Straw Rockets

This lesson discusses with students what a rocket is, and how they work (grade level appropriate) and makes a connection to Newton’s Laws for the older students. Students are then introduced to the important parts of a rocket. They will build their own straw rockets and launch them using our straw rocket launchers. Students will experiment with force and pressure and have the opportunity to connect changes in momentum to force; and changes in force to momentum.

They will need space around the room to safely test/launch their straw rockets.  (Other large rooms like a gym or cafeteria are ideal, as well as the hallway if other classes won’t be disturbed.) (Most appropriate for grade levels 3-9).

Lesson Time: 55-60 minutes

Student Activity: Students will receive instructions on how to build their own straw rocket using a straw, paper for fins, and modeling clay for the nose cone.  They will also be instructed on how to properly use the launcher and then record their data.

Group work: Students will work in groups of 4, with each having a specific job.

  1. Safety Officer - Makes sure each launch is safe. Before the launch, the safety officer must make sure the field is clear.
  2. Launch Officer – Makes sure the launcher edge is straight against the tape, and ensures the launch rod is released, not forced or slammed.
  3. Measurement Officer - Measure the distance that the rocket has traveled, and report that information to the student that launched.
  4. Information Officer – Make sure that students in your group are reminded to record their data after each launch (on their own paper). Watch for variables that might throw off the experiment, and make sure that each student tests their rocket three times.

In order to save time, teachers are asked to create the groups and assign jobs 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.3: There are two categories of energy: kinetic and potential.
6.PS.4: An object’s motion can be described by its speed and the direction in which 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