Last Update: April 2012

Rocketry Units

Rocketry programmes in school use the construction, preparation, flight and recovery of model rockets as the motivation for students to learn about space exploration, the laws of motion, forces acting on objects in flight, predicting flight patterns (motion) using computer software, collecting data using altimeters, clinometers, stop watches and protractors and analysing this on graphs. Other topics such as trigonometry and circuitry can also be covered, as can, for higher level students, gravitational theory and the mathematical principles of "getting into orbit".

The subject matter fits neatly into all science and mathematics curricula, eg: Planet Earth and Beyond, Force, Motion, Flight, using instruments to collect data, presentation of data, experimenting by changing variables, and problem solving. Rocketry is also used by many schools in enrichment/accelerate/special needs classes, elective options and on school camps. All of the programmes are hands on learning activities which enable pupils to apply what they have learned to a practical real-life situation.

All rockets used by the pupils/chool are reusable and can be flown again with the requisite launching equipment.

Some example programmes that can be delivered:

Junior Rocket Scientist:

An intensive 10 - 12 hour programme teaching the above subject matter. During the course, each pupil constructs a parachute or streamer-recovered model rocket, flying it one or more times with a real solid-fuel motor. Depending on the rocket selected (kept by the student at the end of the session) and number of flights, cost to a group of 25: about $55 each. Sample Course Outline
Advanced Rocketry I:
Each pupil builds the same larger rocket from a plan, using mathematics to construct some of the parts of the rocket. The shape of some of these parts is designed by the pupils themselves. The programme contains elements from the above subject matter. Rockets (kept by the students after the course) can be flown with higher impulse composite reloadable solid motors. Cost to a group of 20: about $70 each.
Advanced Rocketry II
Built around the activities of the characters in the book "The Rocket Boys" (October Sky), pupils experience the excitement and thrill associated with the investigation of the specific impulse of different types of rocket propellants, while building a scale model of the 'Miss Riley' rocket featured in the book. Cost to a group of 25: about $65 each.
Junior Rocket Designer:
Pupils study and use geometry to make their own rockets. The design and creation of their space vehicle is a wholly individual effort. Designs are checked for feasibility and completed rockets tested for stability using a computer programme. Tuition from the above subject matter is part of the course. Cost to a group of 25: about $65 each.
Space Shuttle Scientist (Junior):
Students learn about the Space Shuttle and principles of flight while building a small glider each, and one medium size rocket booster for each group/syndicate. The booster rocket will carry each of pupil's aircraft in a manner similar to the Space Shuttle. The booster rocket is recovered by parachute, the 'orbiter' glides back down to earth - an awesome spectacle. Again, the course contains elements from the subject matter above. Cost to a group of 30: about $35 each.
Space Shuttle Scientist (Senior):
Students learn about space and the Space Shuttle, while building in teams, a large 1.5m high rocket booster and a 45cms wing span glider which is launched in the same manner as the Space Shuttle. Each member of each team has a specific part to build in the construction of the rocket and glider, and mathematical formulae are used in the construction of some parts. The course contains elements from the subject matter above. Cost to a group of 30: about $45 each.
Alien Invasion:
Students study and build from a plan, a working model of a flying saucer. Pupils can use a computer programme to see how plan templates are constructed and also to predict how the spaceship might fly. Saucers are powered by a solid rocket motor and can be flown again to a much higher altitude using high impulse composite solid motors. Cost to a group of 25: about $60 each.
Pupils receive tuition in the subject matter outlined above, while buliding , from plans supplied, a working model of a rocket using PET (softdrink) bottles. Students use a remote-controlled, high pressure launching system (up to 1000 kPa) to launch their rockets. Using trigonometry they observe and record the altitudes achieved, as they experiment by varying air and water usage for each flight. Cost to a group of 25 pupils: about $36 each.
Approximate costs above include GST, tuition, demonstration materials, rocket motors, wadding and igniters, hand outs, rocket/glider/saucer kits, chemicals, plans, and all glues and assembly materials.

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