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Photos of students launching bottle rockets.

Flying model rockets is a relatively safe and inexpensive way for students to learn the basics of forces and motion. There are many different types of model rockets and one of the first and simplest type of rocket that a student encounters is the bottle rocket. We have an entire section of the Beginner's Guide to Rockets, devoted to the science and math of bottle rockets. There are special web pages for teachers to align bottle rocket activities with National Math and Science Standards.

It is important to note that building and launching a bottle rocket is not only fun, it is educational. Students can learn the basics of the scientific method by applying that procedure to the flight of a bottle rocket. The photo at the top of this page comes from Birche's Elementary School in Turnersville, New Jersey. Teachers and 5th grade students have conducted scientific studies of the lofting of an egg using their own bottle rocket designs. The students have produced Power Point presentations of the results of their studies that they would like to share with you.

In the fall of 2009, scientific studies were conducted at Birche's Elementary in the following classes:

  1. Mr. Breen's class
  2. Mrs. Byatt's class
  3. Mrs. Frassenei's class
  4. Mrs. Simmons' class
  5. Ms. Young's class

In 2011, additional studies were conducted at Birche's Elementary and at Whitman Elelmentary. Results of the studies were presented by the students to NASA engineers as part of the Digital Learning Network. Here are the student presentations:

  1. Mrs. Byatt's class
  2. Mrs. Frassenei's class
  3. Mrs. Simmons' class
  4. Ms. Young's class
  5. Hull's class
  6. O'hara's class
  7. Sandberg's class
  8. Withstandley's class

You will notice that the student reports all have the important elements of any scientific study.

They all use the scientific method:

A slide describing the scientific method.

They all list the materials used in their studies:

A slide describing the materials used in the study.

They all describe the procedures used in their studies:

A slide describing the procedure used in the study.

They all present data from their studies:

A slide describing the data developed in the study.

And they all draw a scientific conclusion from their studies:

A slide describing the conclusions from the study.

Mrs. Simmons' class produced a video recording of their project and have made it available to students around the world. Just click on the movie picture below to launch the video. The file is large (34 Mb) so it may take time to download.

Video of students launching bottle rockets.

You can use our RocketModeler III computer program to predict the flight characteristics of your bottle rocket. After the flight, compare your flight data with the predictions in the same process used by real rocket scientists to improve designs.

For child privacy purposes, some of the 2011 presentations have been altered from the original form to remove names and images of the students.


Guided Tours

Activities:
Educator Section: Grade 6-10


Related Sites:
Water Rockets
Rocket Index
Rocket Home
Beginner's Guide Home
Aerospace Activities

 

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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Jun 12 2014

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