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Shoot for the Stars - Unit Plan

Shoot for the Stars - Unit Plan

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Grades 6-8 | 10 (45 min) Classes

There had been strange lights in the sky before 1947, but never like this. In June of that year, an experienced civilian pilot reported “saucer-like discs” over Mount Rainier. By July, the papers were running stories about a rancher who discovered strange wreckage in the desert near Roswell. Accounts of mystery “aircraft” and other unknown aerial phenomena were gaining public attention. Something strange was going on and the people in charge wanted answers.

In 1949, a clandestine group of government scientists met at a secret airbase in Nevada to form Project Star Hopper. The goal was to produce a fast and maneuverable piloted vehicle to compete with the unidentified objects commonly referred to as “flying saucers.” With the nation’s best engineers on the task, plans were drawn up for a sleek and functional atomic-powered vessel that could be launched quickly to intercept the aggressors. The result was the Star Hopper – the world’s first interplanetary spacecraft. A small fleet was constructed and tested, and by 1955, they were ready to protect the skies from alien invaders. Or so we were told…

It was absolutely crucial that the Star Hoppers were able to land accurately on the stars if they were to be successful in identifying the aliens. The engineers at Project Star Hopper need your help to determine how to make the rocket land accurately for the pilots navigating space. The focus of your research will be on the recovery system and adjusting the length of the streamer.


Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)


Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.


Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.


Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved. 

Common Core Standards - Math


Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements.


Represent and interpret data.


Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.

Materials Needed

Each Student Needs:

  • Student Portfolio
  • Safety Goggles
  • Clipboard
  • Calculator
  • Mylar Sheet
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Meter Stick
  • Snap Swivel

The Class Needs:

Unit Plan Products

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