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Touchdown - Unit Plan

Touchdown - Unit Plan

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Grades 6-8 | 8 (45 min) Classes

In this lesson, students will answer the question, “How does a parachute’s design affect the speed of descent of a model rocket?” The students will read a story about humans living on Mars in the year 2323. They must design a way to allow a rocket from Earth to land safely on their planet, Estesonia, as the rocket is carrying fragile, photovoltaic cells, their alternate energy source.

Students will hypothesize how the design of a parachute affects the speed of descent of a model rocket. After a review of different types of recovery systems, students will practice what they learned and build and test a parachute prototype. After analyzing the data, students will apply what they have learned to build the Green Eggs Rocket and plan the parachute for their 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 to allow better analysis. They will compare the results and determine the answer to the essential question, “How does a parachute’s design affect the speed of descent of a model rocket?”

The student’s final product will be to complete a Claim-Evidence-Reasoning writing piece supporting their final conclusions. A traditional multiple-choice quiz is included for use if desired.


Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)


Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.

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.

Materials Needed

Each Student Needs:

  • Student Portfolio
  • Safety Goggles
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Grocery Bag
  • Ruler
  • String/ Dental Floss (about 4 feet)
  • Toothpick
  • Market/Highlighter or Small Toy

The Class Needs:

Unit Plan Featured Products

Building Supplies

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