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Ready for Liftoff! November 19, 2012

Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.
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While many fifth graders at the Fox Hill school were off on their overnight field trip to Camp Bournedale, a group of young scientific minds stayed behind and participated in “Camp Foxy.” After the first day, in which students watched a live webinar with astronauts from the International Space Station, we dove deeper into rocket science with a project aimed at bringing all the STEM disciplines together answering one simple question: “What angle should we launch a rocket to make it travel the furthest distance?”

At what launch angle will the rocket travel the farthest?

Students were asked to predict which angle they believed would launch their rockets the farthest after sharing what they already knew about the topic by considering how they throw sports equipment such as baseballs or footballs long distances. They were then put to work assembling their own rockets to experiment with! When all rockets were ready the students democratically selected a launch site. The weather was good so we went out to the school’s front walkway to experiment.

Constructing straw rockets!

Students were very excited to try their rockets out and experimentation did get a bit messy! It was great to hear students deliberate over whether launches were “fair.” One unexpected problem we faced as teachers were some unexpected results! Despite the students’ short statures there was enough height provided to the initial launch point that students frequently fired their 20 degree launches further than the 45 degree angle, leading to puzzled reactions from some students when their results didn’t match up with their ‘sure-thing’ predictions.

Measuring launch to landing using metric measuring tapes.

After lunch we added a third goal by asking students to communicate what they had learned and how they had learned it via a short “Show Me” presentation using some iPads available in the school. The Show Me app leaves some to be desired in the way of editing work and their was a limited amount of time remaining in the day for kids to brainstorm, outline their presentation, and then make the final work. That being said students gave their best efforts.

Sydney’s Rocket Presentation

Eric’s Rocket Presentation

Sonny’s Rocket Presentation Part 1 and Part 2

Teachers were learning during the activity as well when it became apparent that an elevated launch point (as a results of students standing during their launch!) eschewed data and led to some puzzling conclusions for students who started the day with “sure-thing” predictions. Fortunately, some discussion was had between students and teachers about how “fair” or valid the results were. These were conversations that helped the students better understand their results while giving teachers valuable experience to reshape the lesson for future classrooms!

Using the “Show Me” app to communicate our results.

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