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Ready, Steady, Go! - Unit Plan

Ready, Steady, Go! - Unit Plan

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Grades 7-10 | 9 (45 min) Classes

In this lesson, students will answer the question, How does the relationship between the center of pressure and the center of gravity affect the stability of a rocket? Working in teams of three, students will be challenged to design and market a rocket prototype to NASA for its Artemis Program that will be stable enough to carry commercial passengers to the Moon.

Students will be working for R2 Manufacturing, a company revolutionizing spaceflight and rocket technologies. Their new propulsion technology has been a breakthrough, but development on the airframe has been challenging. Their first attempt veered wildly from the flight path, slammed into the ground and was destroyed. Stability has been a huge concern, and they worry that their latest design will suffer the same fate. Students will be placed into 3 different roles – Head Engineer, Head of Manufacturing, and Program Manager – to provide an independent review, measure and verify the stability of the rocket. They will then provide recommendations for the next design iteration.

Through this lesson, students will learn about the center of gravity and center of pressure to hypothesize the best way to have a stable rocket flight. They will then build their first rocket prototype to determine the center of gravity and the center of pressure for their rocket design. They will analyze their own results and the results of their classmates. Following stability tests, they will plan and build a second rocket prototype with a different configuration and identify the center of gravity and the center of pressure of this rocket. Students will make a scientific drawing of a stable rocket, identifying the location of the center of gravity and the center of pressure.


Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

MS-ETS 1-1

Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

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.

MS-ETS 1-3

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.

MS-ETS 1-4

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.

Common Core Standards - English


Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.


Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.


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.


Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.


Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.


Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate

Materials Needed

Each Student Needs:

  • Student Portfolio
  • Rocket Stability Kit
  • Glue
  • Hobby Knife
  • Safety Goggles
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Cardstock
  • String (60 cm)
  • Permanent Marker
  • Small ball of clay
  • Colored Pencils, Markers, or Paint
  • Computer (optional)

The Class Needs:

Unit Plan Products

Building Supplies

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