With styrofoam trays, scissors, tape, straws, and balloons, students design and build cars fueled by the third law of motion.
This is my favorite rocketry lesson to do with students because they start from scratch and it’s crafty. They are learning how to put things together and plan for a lot of steps.
Many of my students found this activity to be an incredible challenge. It’s not often they are asked to create something on their own and test it out. Many of their initial designs did not perform to their expectations. They really had to think about what to do to make their rockets better. They had to be thoughtful and willing to try again.
Last year I had a student who surprised me with how precise he was in designing and building his rocket racer. He normally struggled with being neat and attentive in his school work. Suddenly, he was able to sit in his chair, focus, and create. It was great. More thoughtful hands-on activities please.
Normally, I follow the NASA lesson plan and have my students redesign their rockets two times. This year I am only going to have my students redesign their rocket once because I felt like we didn’t have enough time to dedicate to the third rocket racer. I think shortening the lesson will work better with our timeframe. If I saw my students everyday, I would stick with the original lesson plan.
I haven’t tested this out yet, but I am including a copy of my version of the Rocket Racer data sheet. It’s almost identical to the one in the NASA lesson. I added lines for students to write on and moved some information around. You can change it to meet the needs of your class.
If you want to see how a rocket racer is built, watch the video I’ve put together for this activity.
This is the last rocketry lesson in my box. My next box is filled with CSI lesson plans. I have only taught this unit once. Before I haul this box back to school, I want to test out the lessons again and share them with you. Get ready to fight crime with science.