Monday, April 18, 2011

Straw Rocket Science

Today the students took a look at some elementary rocket science, beginning with Newton's Third Law of Motion (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.) and ending with some straw rocket blasting fun. We talked about some of the forces necessary for a rocket to lift off from their pad at Kennedy Space Center, defined thrust, drag, angle, and trajectory, then set about the build some of our own rockets - straw rockets, that is. We wondered if there was a relationship between the length of the straw rocket and the distance it could travel when launched from a Pitsco Straw Rocket Launcher.

Each group worked under a few simple design constraints - rockets should have a minimum of two fins and a maximum of five fins; the body of the rocket should be a minimum of 10 cm and a maximum length of 20 cm; and each group MUST work as a team with no less than two people working on a rocket. The rockets were constructed of plastic drink straws (non-bendable kind), index card cut fins, and clay for the nose.  Although the students ran out of time before they were able to scientifically prove whether the smaller rockets went further than the long or uncut straw pieces turned rockets, they did enjoy trying to shoot their rockets down the hallway. One thing they discovered was that not all straws are exactly the same size. Some of the straws, even though they were all from the same package, would not fit over the metal tubing on the base of the rocket launcher loosely enough to be ejected into the air. Some of the straw rockets got stuck on the launcher at lift off.

Alex prepares to send off his straw rocket as Ben,
Jayden, Cooper, and Sara watch.
Alex gives his straw rocket another chance
as Cooper looks on.
Ethan and company set the launcher for maximum thrust.
Ben and Eric setting up the rocket launcher to send off Black Obs Brothers' straw rocket.
straw rocket launcher straw rocket launcher fun
Sara and Lily getting ready to launch their straw rocket as Alex, John, Ethan, and Eric watch.
Jamie, Ben, and Kennedy waiting their turn for the straw rocket launcher.




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