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Lesson Title: Project X-51 - Water Rocket Construction
May 11, 2012

Unit: Engineering - Design Process

Grade Levels: 7-9

Connection To Curriculum: Physical Science and Technology

Teacher Prep Time: 2 hours

Lesson Time Needed: 2 weeks

Complexity Moderate

Keywords: rockets, design process, business plan


All supplies need to be available for each group.
2-liter soft drink bottle
1-liter water bottle
One 1-inch-long by ¾-inch-diameter PVC segment
Aluminum soft drink can
Scrap cardboard, poster board and tag board
Large cardboard panels (about 3 by 1 foot) for silhouettes
Duct tape
Masking tape
Glue stick
Low-temperature glue gun
Modeling clay
Plastic grocery bag or garbage bag
Art supplies
The following are needed for launch day:
Water rocket launcher (see page 109)
Safety goggles
Altitude tracker (see page 80)
Tape measure

Teams of students will form "rocket companies" and compete in a commercial endeavor to construct a rocket capable of lifting payloads into Earth orbit. Through a strong interdisciplinary approach, balancing science with technology, engineering and mathematics, they will develop a budget, purchase construction materials and track expenditures while designing the rocket.

Students will:
• Apply rocketry principles and design, construct, test and launch a water rocket using a real-world problem-solving simulation.

First page of Project X51- Water rocket Construction

Lesson Guide
Project X-51 Water Rocket Construction Lesson
[85KB PDF file]



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Lesson Activities and Sequence
Rocket Activity Project X-51

  1. Write a Request for Proposal. Form a rocket company. Pick company officers. Brainstorm ideas for design and budget. Sketch a preliminary rocket.
  2. Using graph paper, draw side, top and bottom views of your rocket to scale (1 square = 2 cm) based on the measurements recorded above. Attach your drawings to this paper. If you make changes during construction, your scale drawing and measurement sheet should reflect them.
  3. Develop a budget for the project and stay within the allotted funds.
  4. Build a test rocket using the budget and plans developed by your team. List rocket specifications and evaluate your rocket's stability by determining its center of mass and center of pressure and by conducting a string test.
  5. Successfully test launch your rocket with a 250-gram payload of simulated fuel.
  6. Develop a cost analysis for your vehicle and demonstrate the most economically efficient launch.

Keywords: rocketry, design process, business plan

National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• The dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science.
Physical Science
• Motions and forces.
• Transfer of energy.
Science and Technology
• Abilities of technological design.
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
• Risks and benefits.
• Science and technology in society.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, NCTM
Expressions and Equations
• Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expression.
• Solve real-life and mathematical problems involving angle measure, area, surface area and volume.

ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Creativity and Innovation
• Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products or processes.
• Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
Research and Information Fluency
• Plan strategies to guide inquiry.
• Process data and report results.
Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making
• Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.


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