Sixth Graders Become Rocket Scientists

When it comes to two-liter bottle rocket design, the sky’s the limit for Antilles School sixth graders, who capped off a unit on Newton’s three laws with a four-day rocket launch on the school’s field. Maggie Klotzbach and Eesha Ved didn’t think they’d have much luck; but, as “Star Wars” fans would say, “the force” was with them. Their rocket — named “Dancing Pop Tarts” for data recording purposes — went over 280 feet in the air before landing in the middle of one of the school’s soccer goals. Classmates cheered on the sidelines.

For the second year in a row, Jeannine Wilson gave her students a chance to learn about everything from aerodynamic forces to the basics of rocketry through this hands-on project that takes place during the last six weeks of school. “We start with the basics of thrust, force, drag, and lift. Then we talk about Newton’s three laws of motion, action and reaction and gravity, and start putting it all together.”

“Assembling the rocket is the easy part,” says Eesha. “Learning the science, how to make the rockets fly, and completing exercises on a simulator to find out how high the bottles would go took way more time. It was hard work, but it was also a lot of fun. Even when we were doing the simulations, it was interesting learning how high we could make the rocket go.”

“It was so cool,” says Maggie. “We didn’t even think it was going to launch, but I think it went really well.” Her teacher agrees. “It’s really one of the greatest things we’ve done as a class.”

Does your school do something similar?

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