Build A Rocket
Nothing gets students involved in science and mathematics like hands on experiments. And what could be better than building your own rockets? While rocketry congers up images of dangerous chemicals and impossible insurance requirements, your students can explore rocketry with nothing more than water and compressed air.
Simple, Easy to Build Water Rocket Launcher
A simple bottle rocket launcher build out of a length of PVC pipe, some glue and a disposable pen. (Nice music, too)
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How to make a water powered bottle rocket
You will want to take a few more safety precautions, but this video shows how easy it is to build a rocket.
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Awesome Film Canister Rocket
On of the easiest ways to build a rocket uses plastic 35mm film canisters and Alka-Seltzer. We saw these being demoed at a science day and everyone enjoyed them. Best done outside or in a room with a tall (12 foot) ceiling. The film canisters can be sourced on E-Bay.
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For less than $5 of materials – and no water spray! – Howtoons shows how you can make a simple air powered paper rocket launcher. Great for younger students.
This launcher project uses air or a lack thereof, not water or pyrotechnics, to launch the spacecraft. Uses a vacuum pump, acrylic cylinder and simple 3D printed parts. It includes alternatives if you do not have access to a 3D printer.
AIAA has compiled STEM ready curriculum from a variety of sources. Topics include Rockets, Parachutes, Space and Structural Dynamics.
For those looking for rockets with a little more punch, Estes -- the model rocket company -- has a site for educators with curriculum, local legal requirements, and more information on model rocketry.
Before the launch, check the safety requirements with your local Fire Department!
Students who express an interest in rocketry can check out FlyRockets.com for lots of information and clubs in their area.
The NAR provides educational resources and a list of nearby clubs. National Association of Rocketry is the oldest and largest sport rocketry organization in the world.
Pat Hayhurst, a H.S. Instructor, describes how he creates Bottle Rockets using 2-liter soda bottles, compressed air and water, and includes a lesson plan! [Our webmaster agrees that soda bottle rockets are great fun.] Lancaster High School sponsored a bottle rocket RocketFest, with contests like "Land The Egg" and "Longest Field Goal By A Rocket".
Another approach is to look at a specific part of space flight. In the Earth-to-Orbit Design Challenge, middle school students were presented with a real-life problem faced by NASA engineers: construct a heat shield that will protect a spacecraft from re-entry temperatures as it returns to Earth. Using simple items purchased at the local hardware, students become immersed in a rewarding process fueled by their original thoughts and critical reflection.
NASA's Student Launch is a researched-based, competitive, experiential exploration activity. It includes yearly challenges reaching a broad audience of middle and high schools, colleges and universities, and non-academic teams across the nation through an eight-month commitment to design, construct, and fly payloads & vehicle components and corresponding ground support equipment.
The teams launch the experiments on high-power rockets in Huntsville, Alabama and share the research results, which will be used in future design and development of NASA projects.
2-Stage Water Rocket - flies to 810'
This is one of those "don't do this at home" type projects.
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Engaging your students with rockets and space travel can open the door to instruction in math, physics, chemistry, biology, and even history.
Check out the Fly Rockets and the National Association of Rocketry lists of local clubs, and invite a nearby club to come to your school to demonstrate and talk about rockets.
Other Areas To Check Out...
• Assessment Overview
• Backyard Adventures
• Hands On Projects And Simple Tools
• Linking Environment and Physics
• Major US and North American Federal Organizations: Environment
• Math Models in Nature
• Music Creation
• NASA Resources
• Programming For Younger Kids ... And The Technically Challenged
• Selecting A 3D Printer