by Jojo Aguilar
Jojo Aguilar is an education outreach specialist in the NASA/JPL Education Office.
The "Soda-Straw Rocket Activity" is my favorite project to share with educators and students of all ages. This experiment allows classrooms to study rocket stability as students construct and fly small "indoor" paper rockets. The goal of this exercise is for students to conduct an experiment, analyze the data and interpret the results. And who doesn't love rockets?
From start to finish, this activity takes less than 30 minutes.
Rocket template (download here)
To create your rocket, download and print the soda-straw rocket template from: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/images/pdf/sodastrawrocket.pdf .
Once completed, you will have a nice little rocket that stands just over five inches tall. Now, insert a soda straw into your rocket and blow into the straw. Record your rocket's length and how far it travels using the template's data log. Next, make rockets of different lengths to see how that affects the results. (Vary the length by cutting the tube that forms the rocket.)
-- When students are done recording data, see if they can use their findings to reach objects, such as a classroom globe.
-- Students should work in groups of four to six and build rockets of different sizes. They can share data and discuss how rocket length affects distance.
-- Let students personalize their rockets by coloring or drawing on them.
-- Students can experiment and improve on their current design or design entirely new rockets for better space travel.
-- Have fun!