This module is appropriate for video conference AND web conference presentation.
Rocket Science draws on math and science principles to explain to students how rockets operate. Emphasis is placed on Newton's Laws of Motion and the forces on a rocket as well as such ideas as center of gravity, thrust, stability, and combustion, to demonstrate and explain how we put satellites and astronauts into space. Demonstrations of different kinds of rockets as well as models of NASA rockets will be used to help students understand the application of these principles.
RocketModeler, a computer simulation program that allows students to design and "fly" a variety of model rockets on their classroom or home computers, is demonstrated.
Presentations can be prepared in collaboration with the requesting teacher to re-enforce topics being taught in the classroom. Previous topics have included:
|The learners will discuss where they have ever seen a rocket fly.|
|The learners will investigate the history of rocket development from the Chinese through the V-2.|
|The learners will discuss the application of Newton's three laws to motion of rockets.|
The learners will apply these ideas to both solid and liquid fuels rockets and discuss their applications and limitations.
|The learners will demonstrate their understanding of how rockets work by answering questions during a demonstration of either pump rockets or alcohol whoosh rockets.|
Center of Gravity: the single point within a body through which all gravitational forces act. All rockets will rotate about their center of gravity.
Center of Pressure: the single point within a body through which all aerodynamic forces act. Rockets are stable if the Center of Pressure is below the Center of Gravity.
Energy: the capacity to do work. Rockets require large amounts of energy to leave Earth's Gravity.
Fin: A fixed or movable airfoil used to stabilize a rocket in flight. Fins are generally placed near the bottom of the rocket to lower the Center of Pressure.
Force: a push or a pull. The rocket's mass is accelerated upward by the force of gases leaving the rocket nozzle.
Impulse: the product of the average force acting upon a body and the time during which it acts. Rockets generally have a large impulse.
Oxidizer: a substance, generally oxygen, which combines with a fuel to produce combustion. Rockets must carry oxidizers because there is no oxygen in space.
Newton's Third Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is how rockets generate force.
Nose: the forward end of the rocket, generally pointed in shape.
Nozzle: a projecting spout from which hot gases are discharged, producing thrust for the rocket.
Power: work done or energy transferred per unit of time. Rockets usually do a huge amount of work in a short time.
Propellant: a substance, usually a mixture of fuel and oxidizer, for propelling a rocket.
Rocket: any of various simple or complex tube like devices containing combustibles that on being ignited liberate gases whose action propels the tube through the air. Rockets are a good example of Newton's Third Law.
Stability: The ability of an object, such as a rocket, to maintain equilibrium or resume its original, upright position after displacement. Fins add stability to rockets.
Stage: a section of a rocket containing a rocket engine or engines that separates when its propellant is exhausted. Stages allow rockets to fly higher and faster.
Trajectory: the curved path described by a rocket in its flight.
Work: force times the distance through which it acts.
In this event the presenter will focus on the key concepts of Newton's laws of motion as they apply to rockets, stability of rockets in flight, center of gravity and center of pressure, types of rocket engines, and weight versus strength considerations. He will begin with questions like "What causes a rocket to go up into the air?" and "How do rockets keep pointed in the right direction?". He will use diagrams, models, and demonstrations of alcohol "whoosh" rockets and air pump rockets to illustrate action and reaction, acceleration, center of gravity, and stability. Models of the Saturn V rocket and the SST will show how staging is used to get rockets into space. Misconceptions such as the idea that rockets push against the earth and that rockets need fins to be stable will be discussed.
Some key concepts that will be presented are that math predicts how a rocket will operate, rockets operate under Newton's Laws of Motion (especially the Third Law), rockets have either solid fuel or liquid fuel engines, solid engines cannot be turned off, hot gasses escaping the nozzle create the action that causes the rocket to move as a reaction, rockets must carry oxygen into space to burn fuel, center of gravity, and center of pressure.
Some of the questions that the presenter may ask are:
1. Why do rockets have fins? (they lower the center of pressure and add stability)
2. How do rocket engines work? (hot gases propel out the nozzle to move the rocket forward)
3. Why do rockets carry their own oxygen? (there is no oxygen in space to burn the fuel)
4. What is a force? (a push or a pull)
5. Why do you think rockets have streamlined shapes? (to help overcome drag when moving through the air)
6. What is the advantage of making a rocket in stages? (you don't have to lift empty fuel tanks into space)
7. How are the Space Shuttle and the Saturn V different? (the Shuttle only goes into low Earth orbit and is reusable)
Meet Tom Benson, creator and author of RocketModeler and The Beginner's Guide to Rockets.
Advanced consultation with the presenter is required in order to tailor the event to your specific needs.
Complete the grades 5-12 post-conference activity created by Chris Marks and Brian Mears, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio.
NSTA Science Content Standards: 5-8
PHYSICAL SCIENCE CONTENT STANDARD B
MOTIONS AND FORCES
TRANSFER OF ENERGY
NSTA Science Content Standards: 9-12
PHYSICAL SCIENCE CONTENT STANDARD B
MOTIONS AND FORCES