from Come Fly With Me – Exploring Science through aviation and aerospace concepts.
GROUP SIZE: Individual or Small group
TIME: Several 45 minute periods
TYPE OF ACTIVITY: Modeling
TEACHING STRATEGY: Expository Guided Discovery
CONCEPTS: Rocket Stability Parts of a Rocket Static Test
SKILLS: Construction Following Directions Control of Variables
Objectives: To study the parts of a model rocket; to learn how a model rocket works; to build and launch a model rocket.
Materials: Rocket kit for each student (several easy to build, inexpensive models are available. Check online at estesrockets.com. They carry a wide variety of types and as well as many model rocketry manuals and activity guides.); a launch system (see activity # 15); extra fine sandpaper; single edge razor blades (one for each two students); rocket engines (at least one per student); igniters; recovery wadding; paint (Optional. Spray paint is easiest to use); activity guides; string; tape; good tacky white glue (It drys faster).
Teacher Background Information:
This lesson is designed to allow students to put together many of the concepts and skills learned in previous lessons from this guide and from your regular science classroom activities. You may very well find that several students in your classes have already assembled and flown model rockets. Their expertise can be very helpful to others in the classroom and to yourself if you have not built rockets before. If possible have the students who have built rockets review with the rest of the class what principles of science apply to the flight of their models. You can help them here to put together their presentations.
1. Use the illustration provided to review the parts of a rocket. You may wish to use an assembled model as part of this review.
2. Do a static test so that the students can see the workings of the engine and the recovery system. See Lesson #’s 12 or 36 for a review of how to set this up.
3. Have the students review the principles of flight for the rocket. Bernoulli‘s principle may not be as obvious for the rocket as it was for the plane. Newton’s laws are a bit more obvious.
4. Have the students assemble their models after reading the directions through carefully.
5. Test the rockets for stability. First locate the center of balance by resting the body tube of the completed model on your finger. Next, tie a loop of string around the balance point and tape it down. In an open area, swing the model around by the string. If the model is stable, it should fly without tumbling. If the model does tumble, add weight to the nose cone or use larger fins. (This should not be a problem with the models from a kit.) D0 NOT FLY A MODEL THAT DOES NOT PASS THE STABILITY TEST.
6. Paint the models and allow them to dry. This adds to the durability of the rocket which should last for many launches. 7. Have the students decide how to evaluate the flight of the rocket. How high did it fly? How fast did it go?
How close to a point which has been predetermined can you get the model to land? ‘
Extensions: Contact a local amateur rocket club and arrange for a demonstration of larger rockets which these clubs many times make. Have the students build one or more class rockets of the larger variety. Have the students build and test a rocket of their own design. Find out about the manufacture of safe model rocket engines. (The substance in the manufactured model engines is identical to the solid fuel in the boosters used by the Shuttle).