Unit: Engineering - Rocketry
Grade Levels: 7-9
Connection To Curriculum: Physical Science, Engineering/Technology and Mathematics
Teacher Prep Time: 30 minutes
Lesson Time Needed: 1-2 hours
Keywords: jets, airplanes, balloons, aeronautics, thrust, rockets, vectoring, Newton's Laws of Motion
Large binder clips (one per launch pad)
Fishing line or smooth string
Long balloons (see note on next page about sources)
Bathroom size (3 ounce) paper cup
2 straight drinking straws
50 small paper clips
Sandwich-size plastic bag
Balloon hand pumps (optional)
Wooden spring-type clothespins (optional)
One 8- by- 10-inch F–15 ACTIVE template on page 56, photocopied on cardstock, 1 per student
1 balloon per student
1 flex-neck bendable plastic straw
1 small rubberband per student
1 pair of scissors per student
Three 8-inch pieces of string per student
One copy of the Student Work Sheet per student
Students use balloons to demonstrate concepts applied by jet and rocket engines to supply thrust for movement.
• Observe how unequal pressure creates power.
• Explain that air power can help airplanes fly.
• Construct a working model of an air engine.
• Construct balloon-powered rockets to launch the greatest payload possible to the classroom ceiling.
Heavy Lifting Lesson
[76KB PDF file]
Lesson Activities and Sequence
The students will use an inflated balloon to exert the forces to propel it down a fishing line test track. Long narrow balloons (not the type used for "balloon animals") are preferred.
Keywords: airplanes, balloons, aeronautics, vectoring, Newton's Laws of Motion
Students will use the concepts from Air Engines and apply vectoring or directional steering of the air that leaves the balloon using a bendable straw.
Keywords: jets, balloons, aeronautics, thrust, rockets, Newton's Laws of Motion
As the track shifts to a vertical lift, the second law of motion becomes more apparent as added mass requires more force or thrust to create the same acceleration and/or distance traveled. Students add weight to their balloon rocket and make adjustments to their design to lift the greatest amount of weight at the greatest distance.
While paper clips are approximately a gram weight, if scales are available with small mass increments, an added skill of measurement and quantifying your results is added to the outcomes.
Keywords: engineering design process, Newton's Laws of Motion, engine, gravity, thrust, weight, rocket, design challenge
Science as Inquiry
• Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry.
• Position and motion of objects.
• Motions and forces.
Science and Technology
• Abilities of technological design.
Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, NCTM
Math as Problem Solving
Number and Operations
Data Analysis and Probability
Reasoning and Proof
ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Creativity and Innovation
Research and Information Fluency
Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making