SUBJECT: Science
GRADE: 7,8,9
TIME: 45 minutes
TYPE OF ACTIVITY: Teacher Demo Student Research
TEACHING STRATEGY: Guided Discovery Open Discovery
CONCEPTS: Environmental ~ Impact Pollution
SKILLS: Observation Inference Research

Objectives: To help students understand how aircraft have impacted on the environment with positive results and with problems that need to be considered.

environment apparatus setup illustration

Materials: Books, pamphlets, encyclopedias on aircraft and what they do; model rocket; 1/2A engine; 2 ring stands; ring stand test tube clamp; ring stand upright; 2 clamps or wire; model rocket ignition system.
Teacher Background Information: Set up the ring stand “launcher” as follows: Attach the extra ring stand upright between the two stands with clamps (or wire the rod to the stands). Attach the test tube clamp to the rear ring stand. Insert the rocket engine in the clamp with the nozzle pointing away from the stand.


If a vented hood is available, aim the rocket exhaust into the hood, If you do not do this experiment outdoors, ventilate the room right after the rocket is fired. Remember, the rocket discharges forward also.

Ask the students to observe very carefully all that happens during and after the rocket “launches.” Set off the rocket and ask them to relate what happened. “It went forward,” will surely be followed by “It was loud” and “It smells!” Focus on the pollutants it leaves: noise, smell, smoke, etc. Think through with the students what sorts of environmental ramifications there may be as we send shuttle crafts up every 10 days or so. If this little rocket can do what it does, have them imagine what 2 rocket boosters such as those on the Shuttle must be like.

Second, discuss some of the possible negative environmental results of any aircraft being launched today. (Noise? Emissions? Cementing over of acres of land? Crop dusting pollutants?)

Third, have the students brainstorm and list the positive environmental impact of aircraft in the atmosphere. (Use in agriculture to seed, fertilize, apply herbicides and insecticides? in livestock production? forest management? logging? game management? freight hauling? people-moving?, etc.)

Fourth, question the data as you go. What do the students know and understand about what the use of aircraft can do environmentally? Are there facts to support contentions that something is beneficial rather than harmful in the final analysis? Where can they look to find facts to support or refute what they think they know?

Fifth, after the students have brought as much information to the discussion as they can, fill in any spots you feel are important and then ask the class to help you categorize the elements discussed into general areas of environmental concern and areas of environmental benefit. Have groups research information about the environmental impact of aircraft in the atmosphere and check if the original understandings were supported or not. Provide time and materials for searching and have the students share their data with the whole class.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.