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Beginner's Guide to Propulsion
Range and Fuel Consumption

Subject Area(s): Mathematics, Technology Education
Grade Level: 6-8
National Standards:

  •  Mathematics as Problem Solving:
    • Formulate problems from situations within and outside mathematics.
    • Verify and interpret results with respect to the original problem situation.
    • Generalize solutions and strategies to new problem situations.
  •  Mathematics as Communication:
    • Model situations using oral, written, concrete, pictorial, graphical, and algebraic methods.
    • Reflect on and clarify their own thinking about mathematical ideas and situations.
    • Use the skills of reading, listening, and viewing to interpret and evaluate mathematical ideas.
  •  Mathematics as Reasoning:
    •  Recognize and apply deductive and inductive reasoning.
    •  Make and evaluate mathematical conjectures and arguments.
  • Mathematical Connections:
    • Explore problems and describe results using graphical, numerical, physical, algebraic, and verbal mathematical models or representations.
    • Use a mathematical idea to further their understanding of other mathematical ideas.
  • Number Systems and Number Theory:
    • Understand how the basic arithmetic operations are related to one another.
  • Computation and Estimation:
    • Computer with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, integers, and rational numbers.
    • Select and use an appropriate method for computing from among mental arithmetic, paper-and-pencil, calculator, and computer methods.
    • Use estimation to check the reasonableness of results.


  • Research Tools - Use content-specific tools, software and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools - Routinely and efficiently use on-line information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.


After reading the explanation given below, use the Beginner's Guide to Propulsion and the Internet to complete the activity on determining a plane's range and/or fuel consumption given a variety of clues.

Many aspects of flight are extremely important, two of which are knowing your aircraft's range and fuel consumption.  Knowing these two pieces of information is similar to knowing how many miles you and your parents can travel in your automobile on one tank of gasoline. However, running out of fuel in a car is much less dangerous than running out of fuel in an airplane (for obvious reasons!).

The Beginner's Guide to Propulsion is a Web site of information prepared by the NASA Glenn Research Center to help you better understand aircraft engine propulsion. In the Propulsion Index, under Aircraft Motion open the slide entitled Range - Constant Velocity and review the information. Next, locate Fundamentals in the Propulsion Index. Open the slide entitled Newton's First Law, and review the information provided. Use the material in the slides as background information to help you complete the activity.

In the activity, you will be answering questions based on the range and fuel consumption of the airplanes available to you in Microsoft Flight Simulator '95.

To begin the activity, click on Range and Fuel Consumption.


You, or you and your partner(s), will be evaluated on the accuracy and/or feasibility of your answers.


You will demonstrate the ability to determine the range and fuel consumption of various airplanes, given a variety of clues.

Submitted by: Devon Williams, J. P. McConnell Middle School, Loganville, Georgia

Related Pages:
Propulsion Activity Index
Propulsion Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, May 13 02:38:39 PM EDT 2021

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