Power Up - Unit Plan

Grades 6-8 | 10 (45 min) Classes

Topics Covered

Transformation of Energy - PE to KE | Calculation of PE and KE

Essential Question

How does GPE transform to KE in a model rocket flight?


In this lesson, students will answer the question, how does gravitational potential energy transform to kinetic energy in a model rocket flight? The students will read a story about humans living on Mars in the year 2343 who wish to launch rockets to the moons of Mars. They will anticipate how the gravitational force on Mars will affect their exploration.

Students will hypothesize how the gravitational force on Mars will affect the gravitational potential energy of a model rocket. After a review of potential and kinetic energy, students will practice what they learned and build and test a rubber band rocket. They will then review the data and apply their learnings to build a model rocket in groups to analyze its transformation of energy.

After the flight, the students will combine their data into a class data chart. They will compute how their rockets would be affected if they were being launched from Mars.
The student’s final product will be to complete a Claims- Evidence- Reasoning writing piece supporting their final conclusions. A traditional multiple-choice quiz is included for use if desired.



Each Student Needs:

  • Student Portfolio
  • Safety Goggles
  • Clipboard
  • Calculator
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Meter Stick
  • Rubber Band
  • Bamboo Skewer
  • Straw
  • Masking Tape
  • Pennies
  • Permanent Marker
  • Stopwatch (1 per group)

Each Classroom Needs:




Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.


Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.


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.


Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.




Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.



Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set.


Write an inequality of the form x > c or x < c to represent a constraint or condition in a real-world or mathematical problem. Recognize that inequalities of the form x > c or x < c have infinitely many solutions; represent solutions of such inequalities on number line diagrams.


Understand the concept of a ratio and use ratio language to describe a ratio relationship between two quantities.


Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations.


Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities.


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The peak altitude or highest point of a rocket’s flight.


Energy that is stored due to the gravitational force of the Earth, dependent on the object’s mass and height, and measured in Joules.


Force that pulls everything down toward the center of the Earth.


Device used to ignite a rocket engine


Unit of work or energy, abbreviated as J


Energy of motion that is dependent on mass and velocity, measured in Joules


Relationship between two variables such that when one variable changes, the second variable changes in the same manner.


Relationship between two variables such that when one variable changes, the second variable changes in the opposite manner.

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