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Aiming for the Moon - Unit Plan

Aiming for the Moon - Unit Plan

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Grades 6-8 | 8 (45 min) Classes

In this lesson, students will aim their rockets for the Moon! They will be challenged to launch a rocket that will reach an altitude of 800 feet- no more, no less. Students will take on the role of engineers for NASA who must choose the appropriate fuel supply for a rocket destined to the Moon.

Students will hypothesize how the thrust of the engine will affect the rocket’s apogee – highest altitude it reaches. After a review of the four forces of flight, students will practice using the Mini AltiTrak™, an altitude tracking device. After analyzing the data, students will apply those learnings to build an Estes Rocket and analyze its flight. They will state a hypothesis and identify the independent and dependent variables.

After the flight, the students will combine their data into a class data chart for better analysis. They will compare the results and determine the answer to the essential question, How does the thrust of a model rocket engine affect the altitude of the rocket’s flight?

The student’s final product will be to complete a Choice Project. Details and a rubric are included. An optional Multiple-Choice Assessment is also provided.


Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)


Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.


Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects.

MS-ETS 1-2

Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Common Core Standards - Math



Write and evaluate numerical expressions involving whole-number exponents.


Use variables to represent two quantities in a real-world problem that change in relationship to one another.


Giving quantitative measures of center (median and/or mean) and variability (interquartile range and/or mean absolute deviation), as well as describing any overall pattern and any striking deviations from the overall pattern with reference to the context in which the data were gathered.



Compute unit rates associated with ratios of fractions, including ratios of lengths, areas and other quantities measured in like or different units.


Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities.


Decide whether two quantities are in a proportional relationship.


Identify the constant of proportionality (unit rate) in tables, graphs, equations, diagrams, and verbal descriptions of proportional relationships. 


Apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.


Understand that rewriting an expression in different forms in a problem context can shed light on the problem and how the quantities in it are related.


Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. 


Use functions to model relationships between quantities. 


Describe qualitatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph.

High School


Use trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean Theorem to solve right triangles in applied problems.

Materials Needed

Each Student Needs:

  • Student Portfolio
  • Safety Goggles
  • Clipboard
  • Calculator
  • Tennis Ball (or other small ball)

The Class Needs:

Unit Plan Products

Building Supplies

Other Lesson Plans

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