Students explore projectile motion, forces related to flight, and Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students design, construct, and test straw rockets to determine how launch angle and force affect the path of the rocket. After testing the effects of various factors on the straw rocket’s flight, students design and launch a straw rocket design to hit a specific target.

Lesson 1: Intro to Projectiles

In this lesson students will learn science concepts related to projectiles. The students will learn what a projectile is, learn the two components that control the path of a projectile, learn what the scientists, Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton contributed to the science of projectiles, conduct simple experiments concerning the path of simple projectiles such as tennis balls or rubber bands, and write a lab report using the scientific method.

Lesson 2: Projectile launchers – catapults, sling shots, and trebuchets

In this lesson you will learn the history of projectile launching machines. Students construct simple catapults, trebuchets, and sling shots. Students test the launching ability of each projectile launching machine.

Lesson 3: Catapult Challenge - Maximum Distance

In this lesson students will be given a challenge to design a projectile launching machine that will achieve the longest distance possible. The students will be challenged to create a launching machine with the materials given. Students test and make revisions to their launcher to achieve maximum distance of the projectile object. Students record the distance that the projectile is thrown, and the changes in distance as they perfect their launcher. Student report what variables make the biggest impact on their objects projected distance.

Lesson 4: Catapult Challenge – Target

In this lesson students will be given a challenge to design a projectile launcher machine that will hit a specific target. The students will be challenged to create a launching machine with the materials given. Students test and make revisions to their launcher to achieve the ability to hit a specific target. Students record how close projectile gets to the target, and make changes to perfect their launcher. Students report what variables make the biggest impact on their objects being able to hit a specific target.

Lesson 5: Straw Rockets - Projectile Path

In this lesson students will learn about projectile paths and then learn how to relate the information to straw rockets. Students learn about projectile paths, construct a straw rocket, and explore factors that affect a straw rocket projectile path.

Lesson 6: Straw Rockets Design

The students learn about projectile paths. Students design and construct a straw rocket. Students test their rocket using a straw launcher.

Lesson 7: Straw Rocket Challenge - Maximum Distance

The students are challenged to create a straw rocket that will achieve maximum distance with the materials provided. Students launch their rocket at three different angles. Students vary the mass of the rocket nose, the design of the fins of the rocket and the length of the straw and test the effect of each on the distance the rocket travels. Students analyze the data from their tests and design a final rocket for competition.

Lesson 8: Straw Rocket Challenge – Target

The students will be challenged to use materials given to create a straw rocket intended to hit a target. Students test their rocket to achieve the ability to hit a specific target. Students record and analyze data. Students make revisions to perfect their rocket. Students report what variables make the biggest impact on their rockets ability to hit a specific target.