In this activity, students investigate the effect that weight has on rocket flight. Students construct a variety of their own straw-launched rockets, or "strawkets," that have different weights. Specifically, they observe what happens when the weight of a strawket is altered by reducing its physical size and using different construction materials. Finally, the importance of weight distribution in a rocket is determined.
Students experientially learn about the characteristics of a simple physics phenomenon the pendulum by riding on playground swings. They use pendulum terms and a timer to experiment with swing variables. They extend their knowledge by following the steps of the engineering design process to design timekeeping devices powered by human swinging.
This applet simulates two runners moving along a track and creates a graph of the time-versus-distance relationship of their motion. Students then observe the simulated races as they happen and relate the changing positions of the two runners to dynamic representations that change as the events occur. Students can predict the effects on the graph of changing the starting position or the length of the stride of either runner. They can observe and analyze how a change in one variable, such as length of stride, relates to a change in speed. This computer simulation uses a familiar context that students understand from daily life, and the technology allows them to analyze the relationships in this context deeply because of the ease of manipulating the environment and observing the changes that occur.
The airplanes unit begins with a lesson on how airplanes create lift, which involves a discussion of air pressure and how wings use Bernoulli's principle to change air pressure. Next, students explore the other three forces acting on airplanes thrust, weight and drag. Following these lessons, students learn how airplanes are controlled and use paper airplanes to demonstrate these principles. The final lessons addresses societal and technological impacts that airplanes have had on our world. Students learn about different kinds of airplanes and then design and build their own balsa wood airplanes based on what they have learned.