MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Water Bottle Rockets - etc!

Water Bottle Rockets - etc!

Chris Bakke, Clearbrook-Gonvick School, Clearbrook, MN, based on a fairly common activity I like to do with my students
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Summary

In this science lab, students investigate Newton's Laws of Motion. Students will make and fly water bottle rockets, as well as measure the height of each rocket's flight.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed for students to be exposed to Newton's Laws of Motion, how contained air and water pressure can be used for propulsion, and how to measure something very high. Students also observe how differences in design and pressure affect the flights of water bottle rockets.

Context for Use

This is a combination of a field exercise and classroom preparation. This project works well with any age student, but the vocabulary, difficulty, and skills may need to be modified based on student age. Prior to launch, it is beneficial if students have been exposed to: parts of the rocket, history of rocketry, how to find the height of a rocket (can be simplified using easy an easy to make tool and chart). Students will also enjoy designing or painting their rockets prior to flight.
Vocabulary:
Newton's Law's of Motion:
-First Law
*Objects at rest will stay at rest, or objects in motion will stay in motion, unless
acted upon by an unbalanced force.
-Second Law
*The acceleration of an object is directly related to the force exerted on that
object and oppositely related to the mass of that object.
-Third Law
*For every action there is always an opposite and equal reaction.
-Rocket Launch
*For a rocket to lift off, force must be exerted. (First law)
o The rate (speed) will be determined by two things: (Second law)
 The mass (weight) of the rocket
 By the force produced by the fuel.
*The reaction, or motion, of the rocket away from the launch pad is equal to and
opposite from the thrust of the engine or nozzle. (Third Law)

Context for Use Adaptations:
For younger students (K-2) fizzy rockets (alkaseltzer or baking soda in a film canister) may be a more appropriate, and for older students a unit using Estes Rockets (or something similar) is also appropriate. For fizzy rockets and water bottle rockets, a moderate size area is needed (a playground ). For Estes (engine style) rockets, a larger area is needed (a golf course).

Subject: Physics:Classical Mechanics
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity, Field Activity
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)

Description and Teaching Materials

Prior to this activity, the teacher needs to collect plastic drinking bottles. Bottles can be of various sizes (water bottles up to 2-liter bottles). Teacher also needs to make or purchase a water bottle launching system.
Materials:
-Balloons

-Sentence strips

Day 1:
Bring in a variety of rockets and/or pictures of rockets that students can explore. Students compare and contrast rockets and come up with five questions they have about rockets. In groups of 2 or 3, students share and discuss their questions with one another. Each student writes one of their questions on a sentence strip (groups write one original question per member). Share questions with the class.

Someone will ask questions that lead into rocket design, propulsion, and Newton's Laws.

Have students experiment with balloons; for sanity's sake, you could limit balloon flights. For example: they each fly their balloon 5 times. Students then journal about what they think makes the balloons move and why they think rockets can fly.
Note: Balloons can be attached to many things to make objects (such as toy cars) move. Try different types of balloons.

Day 2:
Students paint or decorate their rocket(s).
Rockets do not need to have fins, nose cones, or parachutes. Depending on your level of experience and the students age, vary the complexity of your rocketry as desired.

You will need to see the water level inside of each rocket at launch time; if you are painting the rockets, put a piece of tape up the side of the rocket before you paint. Pull the tape off, as soon as you are done painting, to leave a water level window.

Day 3:
Materials:
-Water

-Air compressor

-Altitude measuring devices (at least 3).

Measure distance for altitude measuring.
Set-up safety area around launch site.
Fly rockets.
Record data.
Take at least a picture for at least one flight per student rocket.

Rockets can be shot multiple times, changing a variable each time.
Change one variable for each rocket: either water level or PSI at release time.
Measure water level in each rocket or note the PSI for each rocket launched.
Record data for each flight:
student, amount of water, rocket size, PSI, altitude of flight
(note: at least 3 students need to measure altitude for each flight

After all rockets have been launched:
Students journal thoughts, reactions, and their observations of rocket flights

Day 4:
Materials:
-Altitude Data - one copy for each group

Each student writes a final copy, one page, "ROCKET DAY" paper about flying rockets, using their journal entry from yesterday.

Students create chart or graph of their rocket's flight information.


Day 5:
Materials:
-One medium cardboard box per group
-Art supplies
-Picture of each student's rocket launch

Students are divided into groups of three or four and each group is given a cardboard box to display rocket data (one student per side).

Each student displays the following on their side of the box display:
Picture of one of their flights
Chart or graph with altitude data
ROCKET DAY paper

Display boxes.

Groups come up with 7 ideas on "how to make a better rocket" or "What could I do to make my rocket fly better" etc.

Each group member picks one idea to share with class (a group of 3 students would share 3 ideas with the class).

Assessment:
Day 5 box and a successful rocket flight

Altitude Measuring Tool Plans:
http://www.esteseducator.com/Pdf_files/Math&mr.pdf

Good NASA water rocket site:
http://exploration.grc.nasa.gov/education/rocket/BottleRocket/about.htm

Water Bottle Site:
http://members.aol.com/hayhurst1/h2orocket.htm

Simplist, easiest, least expensive, safest launching system I could find: http://www.sciencetoymaker.org/waterRocket/buildWaterRocketLauncher.htm

Teaching Notes and Tips

For younger students (K-2) fizzy rockets (Alka Seltzer or baking soda in a film canister) may be a more appropriate, and for older students a unit using Estes Rockets (or something similar) is also appropriate. For fizzy rockets and water bottle rockets a moderate size area is needed (a play ground ). For Estes (engine style) rockets, a larger area is needed (a golf course).

Altitude Measuring Tool Plans:
http://www.esteseducator.com/Pdf_files/Math&mr.pdf

Good NASA water rocket site:
http://exploration.grc.nasa.gov/education/rocket/BottleRocket/about.htm

Water Bottle Site:
http://members.aol.com/hayhurst1/h2orocket.htm

Simplist, easiest, least expensive, safest launching system I could find: http://www.sciencetoymaker.org/waterRocket/buildWaterRocketLauncher.htm

Assessment

Participation, oral group sharing and display boxes

Standards

Physical Science Grade 5 II.D.2 The student will demonstrate that the greater the force applied, the greater the change in motion.

References and Resources

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