Third graders in Cottage Lane Elementary School Technology teacher Rebecca Coatti’s classes have spent the last several weeks designing and engineering their very own air rockets and last week, students got to launch their rockets.
Before planning how to build their rocket, Coatti explained what an air rocket is and the different forces of motion that the rocket is subjected to: weight, thrust, lift and drag. Based on their research, students chose the design of their rocket including the size and the number of fins on the bottom of the rocket. Leading up to their launch, students also looked at the NASA website to learn about mission patches and designed their own patches with the mission for their rocket.
During their official rocket launch, Coatti and K-12 Instructional Technology Coach Marc Eckert used a compressed air rocket launcher to help the rockets take flight. Coatti told students to make observations about their rocket and their classmates’ rockets to see how the design affected the distance that the rocket travelled. Following their launch, students are going to reflect on changes that they would make to their design and build a brand-new rocket to see how they compare. “This project is all about hands-on fun where they have the opportunity to tinker around and explore. Not everything will be perfect and it’s important to just experiment,” explained Coatti. “We watched examples of engineering failures and setbacks and then followed up by seeing how improvements were made to fix the problem. I always say that failure will lead to success but that you just have to keep trying!”