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Beginner's Guide to Rockets
Gas Pressure

Subject Area(s): Physical Science
Grade Level: 10-12
Time Required: Basic lesson is 2 class periods; extension lesson may vary
National Standards:

  • Unifying Concepts and Processes:
    • Evidence, models, and explanation.
    • Form and function.
  • Science as Inquiry: Understandings about scientific inquiry.
  • Physical Science:
    • Motions and forces.
    • 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.
  • Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools - Routinely and efficiently use on-line information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity.


  • You will study the effects of air pressure on a used pop can.
  • After observing the changes that occur in a used pop can during the activity, you will, with the aid of the Beginner's Guide to Rockets, offer an explanation of the changes and apply what you have learned to the operation of a rocket engine.
  • You will also investigate a question you or your group have on air pressure and/or rocket engines.

The Beginner's Guide to Rockets is a Web site of information prepared at 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 slide entitled Gas Pressure and read the description. Use this description as background information to help you complete the activity.

 Note: The implosion of the empty pop can is presented as an aid in visualizing the effects of air pressure and force.


You will be assessed on the extent of detail provided by your observations and by the use of scientific concepts in your explanations as recorded in your journals.


You will be evaluated on your ability to research your extension question and present to the class information found in the Beginner's Guide to Rockets and the World Wide Web. You are expected to be on task, and journals will be randomly checked.

Submitted by: Norma Holowach, Lakeview High School, Cortland, Ohio


Related Sites:
Rocket Index
Rocket Home
Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Home


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

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