Grades 6-8 | 5 (45 min) Classes
This hands-on lesson offers two pathways for teachers to choose from to answer the question “How does the mass of a rocket’s payload affect the maximum height it can achieve?” In the first pathway, students will build a rubber band rocket to see the effect of mass on the altitude the rocket reaches. In the second pathway, students will complete an online, interactive investigation of the effect of mass on a rocket.
Both pathways will lead to a rocket build and launch, where students will add a payload of pennies to the rocket and analyze the effect of mass on the altitude reached by a model rocket. For the assessment, students will use a CER model to answer the essential question.
Note: This lesson is derived from the unit “Does Mass Matter?” For a more in-depth look at the relationship of mass to altitude, acceleration, and velocity, we recommend that unit.
Next Generation Science Standards
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.
Evaluate competing design solutions 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.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.1, SL.7.1, SL.8.1
Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Each Student Needs:
- Student Portfolio
Each Group Needs:
- Green Eggs Rocket Kit
- C11-3 Engines
- Lifetime Launch System
- PocketLab Voyager or Estes Altimeter
- Pennies (up to 10)
- Exacto Knife
Note: If conducting this as a class demonstration only one rocket and several engines are needed. Otherwise, one rocket for every two students is suggested.
Pathway 1 Additional Materials
- Rubber Bands
- Bamboo Skewers
- Meter Sticks
- Paper Clips
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