Reflection: Problem-based Approaches Craft Rocket Challenge #2 - Section 6: Student Activity


Teaching physical science I try to incorperate practical lesson that invoke Newton's Laws and/or computational formulas. Most of my students are familiar with Einstein's famous equation E=MC2, but few know what it actually means. A much more useful formula, and easier to replicate in a classroom, is Newton's Second Law of Motion.

Newton's Second Law states that force (F) is based upon the mass (m) of an object and it's acceleration (a). These three variables are beautifully tied together in the formula F=ma. Most kids can conceptualize the acceleration difference between a motorcycle and a car when they both contain the same engine. A motorcycle has less mass than a car with the same force (engine) propelling it forward, therefor it has greater acceleration.

In this lesson the students will have to manipulate Newton's Second Law to calculate acceleration using the formula a=F/m. The rocket's force (F) is stamped on the side of the rocket, the mass of the rocket is easily measured with a triple-beam balance scale so acceleration is easily computed. If you are still trying to challenge your students you could time the rockets accent with a stopwatch and determine the rockets final altitude with a NASA Altitude Tracker using the formula S=d/t (speed = distance / time) and compare the difference between acceleration and speed.

  Using Newton's 2nd Law
  Problem-based Approaches: Using Newton's 2nd Law
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Craft Rocket Challenge #2

Unit 12: Engineering and Design
Lesson 6 of 11

Objective: Students will be able to build a large rocket, launch, and determine the altitude the rocket achieves.

Big Idea: Your students are about to build a rocket of substantial size, using material found around the house!

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  260 minutes
large craft rocket
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