Build A Rocket
Nothing gets students involved in STEM 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 or compressed air.
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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For about $10 in materials – and no water spray! – you can make a simple air powered paper rocket launcher. The rockets themselves are almost free, made out of sheets of copy paper! Great for younger students.
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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NASA has created this guide for educators, full of activities and lesson plans. This resource for grades K thru 12 emphasizes hands-on science, prediction, data collection and interpretation, teamwork, and problem solving. Look for background information about the history of rockets and basic rocket science. The rocket activities in this guide support national curriculum standards for science, mathematics and technology. Many of the projects require only simple materials like paper, straws, rubber bands and the like.
The scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical foundations of rocketry provide exciting classroom opportunities for authentic hands-on, minds-on experimentation, no matter what the grade level.
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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Don't want to launch rockets in the playground? Here's a lesson plan challenge from NASA that can be conducted indoors by grades 5 thru High School: Design and test a heat shield to protect the sensor payload during a Mars entry simulation. This resource includes an introductory page and the worksheets for students. Your students will create their design, track costs, make observations, and write up the results.
The Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) is the world's largest rocket contest, designed to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) and more than 20 aerospace industry partners, TARC provides middle and high school students the opportunity to design, build and launch model rockets in a competition among approximately 5,000 students nationwide each year.
Can you launch eggs into space and return them safely to the Earth?
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.
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!
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".
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.