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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Rocketry in Motion

Project URL:

How it works:
This unit is a series of lessons centered around the invention of rocketry. Most students do not realize that rockets are based on one of the simple laws of physics described by Sir Isaac Newton: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." From that simple law, students learn the dynamics of why a balloon flies in one direction as the air escapes in the opposite direction. Also from that simple concept, students understand the nature of rockets, beginning with early fireworks, war rockets, and, finally, space rockets. They learn the basics of rocket propulsion, how rockets work in a vacuum, and the identity of some scientists associated with defining the laws of rocket science, as well as those scientists responsible for the creation of modern rockets. Students use the computer as a tool for conducting research and creating a timeline of rocket history, reports on rocketry, and a slide show. Students also have the opportunity to do many hands-on experiments to see the principles of rocketry in action.

Standards addressed:  
Students demonstrate understanding of objects in motion and of big ideas and unifying concepts. They ask questions about natural phenomena, events, and discoveries; identify problems; propose and implement solutions; and evaluate the accuracy, design, and outcome of investigations. They work individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas, and use technology and tools to gather data and extend the senses. The students also use scientific notation for writing of experiments.

Materials used:
Required materials include computers with Internet access, scanners, digital cameras, and imaging software such as KidPix, SuperPrint, and HyperStudio. 

The students:
Rocketry in Motion
was conducted with fifth grade students of average ability. They all had a working knowledge of the computer, including Internet use and the various drawing and word processing programs. Students should also have experience working in cooperative learning groups as well as on their own.

Overall value:
The best features of this unit, besides the study of rocketry, is the use of the computer to enhance learning. It enables the students to use their creative abilities to write and illustrate their work. The creation of a timeline and slideshow is a great way to share their accomplishments with fellow students.
Make sure students use pre-selected sites. Divide the children into cooperative groups beforehand and be certain they know their assigned roles. Go over the use of the various computer programs that will be used. Train a few students in the use of a digital camera.

About the teacher:
Bonnie Glasgold is a science enrichment teacher at P.S. 101 in Brooklyn, New York. She believes in a "hands-on" approach to teaching. She has been a member of TeachNet for over four years and has regularly used technology to enhance her science units.


Subject Areas:                            Science 

Grade Level: 



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