**Study of
Projectile Motion using Straw Rockets**

Columbia Preparatory School, Manhattan

**Summer Research Program
for Science Teachers**

August 2008

**
OBJECTIVES:**

·
study
motion through student inquiry and independent investigation

·
investigate how the launch angle of a projectile affects the distance traveled

·
consider
the forces on a projectile and how they might affect the flight

·
practice
problem solving skills using kinematics equations

**
BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE:**

1-D
kinematics

intro to
2-D motion

vector
addition

trigonometry

**
MATERIALS:**

[enough
for each student to make 2 rockets]

Pitsco
Straw Rocket Launcher

Pitsco
Precision Straws (or regular straws!!)

index
cards

molding
clay

tape

markers

**
PROCEDURES:**

ACT I:
design [**day 1** after
introduction and discussion]

·
show
students how the launcher works

·
distribute materials and ask each student to design their own rocket

[give NO
instruction here on design options]

·
let them
launch a few times just to get it out of their system!!

**
ACT II: launch angle [day 2]**

·
divide
students into small groups each group has own launcher

·
ask
students to launch their rockets at varying angles from 10°
to 80°

·
each
student should record (approximately no need for precision measurements yet)
the distance their rocket traveled at each angle

·
ask them
to get together as a group and predict what angle is going to result in the
furthest distance traveled

·
get the
students to discuss WHY (using physics!!!) they think 45°
produces the greatest distance

**
ACT III: redesign [day 3]**

·
talk
about what they noticed in their groups about which rocket went the furthest

·
brainstorm about the forces encountered (and discuss) during the flight

·
ask each
student to design another rocket for the distance competition

**
ACT IV: distance competition [day 4]**

·
allow
each student to launch (@45°)
their redesigned rocket

·
each
student must carefully measure the total horizontal distance traveled

·
and of
course they should just goof around and have fun

because
who doesnt love playing with rockets?!!

**
FOLLOW UP ASSIGNMENT:**

calculate the initial velocity of the straw using known values you know:

launch
angle

vertical
acceleration

horizontal acceleration

vertical displacement

horizontal displacement

**
**

**
RELEVANT SCIENCE STANDARDS:**

**
TEACHING
STANDARD A
**
plan an
inquiry based science program

**
TEACHING STANDARD B**
guide and facilitate learning interact with students, support
inquiries, orchestrate discussion, encourage participation and curiosity

**
TEACHING STANDARD D**
design/manage a learning environment to provide time and resources for
learning science prolonged investigations & use of outside resources

**
TEACHING STANDARD E**
develop a community of science learners that reflects the rigor of
scientific inquiry facilitate ongoing discussions regarding scientific
discourse

**
CONTENT STANDARD A**
scientific inquiry

**
CONTENT STANDARD B**
physical science

**
CONTENT STANDARD E
**
science & technology /
technological design