Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Model Rocket Challenge - Section 2: Building a Commercial Model Rocket


Most of the rocketry engineering projects I do with my students involve the students designing and building rockets from scratch. I believe that before they can build a rocket of their own they will gain valuable experience following someone else's directions. Commercial kits provide valuable learning at a relative inexpensive return. Most of these types of rockets can be built within a single class period. Also with a commercial kit there is a high likelihood of success, something students need early on if they plan to build more complicated designs.

After your students have gained some experience with building rockets, they can try their hand at a greater challenge, building a rocket from scratch.

Craft Rocket Challenge #1

Craft Rocket Challenge #2

Rockets fail, often for no apparent reason. I teach my students that failing is part of the learning (and engineering) process. We all need to remember that we learn more from a failure than we could from success. I also celebrate spectacular rocket failures. There is nothing better then seeing a rocket explode on the launch pad, fly in an erratic pattern, or strike the ground with a thud! Just make sure to follow that up with an engineering discussion. The best way to support an engineering discussion is by filming the launches.

Filming the launches provides a valuable resource for evaluation. Filmed failure extends the learning to the entire class and proves to be great entertainment to the entire school. I have seen filmed crashes get passed around the school with positive results. 

  Using a commercial product
  Staircase of Complexity: Using a commercial product
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Model Rocket Challenge

Unit 12: Engineering and Design
Lesson 4 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to build a model rocket as an introduction to rocketry.

Big Idea: Consider this your students' first step into model rocket flight.

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  180 minutes
model rocket challenge
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