Guide to Rockets
Subject Area: Chemistry
Grade Level: 9-12
Time Required: 3 class periods
- Unifying Concepts
- Change, constancy,
- Form and
- Science as
about scientific inquiry.
necessary to do scientific inquiry
- Physical Science:
Structure and properties of matter.
- Research Tools
- Use content-specific tools, software and simulations (e.g., environmental
probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools)
to support learning and research.
and Decision-Making Tools - Routinely and efficiently use on-line
information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications,
communications, and productivity.
- You and your group
will design your own procedure to calculate the mass of the gas molecules
in the classroom by measuring the volume of the classroom and researching
the density of air. You and your group will then apply the changes in
air density with altitude and the effects on rocket engine performance.
created at NASA Glenn Research Center to illustrate an example of their
research, simulates the aero-thermodynamics of a rocket engine nozzle. With
this software you can change many of the variables in a rocket engine to study how
they work. You can change the fuels, operating conditions, and even design your
own nozzle. RocketThrust is intended for science and math students
from secondary schools through undergraduate engineering.
Guide to Rockets is a Web site of information prepared by the
NASA Glenn Research Center to help you better understand rockets and rocket engine
propulsion. Click on the Beginner's
Guide Index to access the list of slides. Open the slides entitled
Air Properties Definitions
and/or Gas Density. Read
the descriptions as background information to help you complete the activity.
the target group is a Chemistry class, the lesson is presented with a
rather open procedure by design. Students are not told step by step exactly
what to do. They are given the objectives and in small groups are to decide
what materials, information, and procedures are required to determine
the mass of the gas molecules in the room.
B. This lesson also helps students to realize that air has mass.
Once students have determined the mass of the molecules in the room they
can then analyze how the properties of those molecules will change with
altitude in our atmosphere and how that applies to the functioning of
a rocket engine. Another piece of software, called
can also be used in this exercise. This software includes a mathematical model
of the standard day atmosphere which is used by aeropsace engineers.
C. A suggested option is to have the students predict the
mass of the gas molecules in the classroom before they begin their procedure.
This may help remove some misconceptions about gases.
You and your
group will be assessed on your description of your procedure, the presentation
of your data and calculations, and the final results for both the mass
of gas molecules in the classroom and the functioning of a rocket engine.
- Reports should
be neat, in chronological order, and include measurements with units.
All sections should be clearly identified.
Norma Holowach, Lakeview High School, Cortland, Ohio
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