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Rocket Modeling


This unit will last for two weeks, and will explore the concepts relating to aerodynamics through the modeling of rocket flights and how the flow of thrust through the nozzle at the end of the rockets affects the flight distance of the rocket. This will require use of simulations that are designed to handle such problems, as well as some explanation about aerodynamics in general. The whole idea of making a water rocket will try to enclose the flight of the real rocket and physics applied while modeling the situation. The importance of modeling these kind of situations will be also a focus of proving.

Background Reading for Teachers and TAs


  • Wikipedia tells it all about the aerodynamics, one should know. Some ideas about modeling could be obtained.


  • At the lower part of the site - it talks about visualizing the results and the whole simulation of the wind tunnel. Interesting.

The two above mentioned wikipedia articles could be used to extract important aspects to introduce students to the basics of the fluid dynamics so that they understand science behind the model easier and better.


  • Contains everything that we need.

I mostly refer to this source in the below description cause it's magnificently made student and teacher handbook.

Reading Assignments for Students

The ideas from: http://www.esteseducator.com/Pdf_files/PhysicsCurr.pdf

..could be applied cause it's quite long document and it could be chosen what they should read; it contains so called student book with the material to be read-that can be used. Specifically: Student book contains pages from: 48-71 (including) Very handful - divided into chunks which are handed in each lecture.

Besides this: Lab handouts are handed out with helping schemes about the whole model and software used in the labs. ( I also described it later on below.)

Reference Material

Aerodynamics wiki article.

Water rocket wiki article.

PDF file full of water rocket science - basically a developed course.

A water rocket website - developed by experienced water-rocket-ians.

Lecture Notes

Lecture 1: Aerodynamics Forces - What they are and what they do

  • Go into a brief review of the previous units, touch on concepts from the earlier topics, and explain how they relate to this unit, I.E. How modeling a rocket is different from modeling a bridge.
    • The relation to the previous units on the basis of the physical laws and forces. For example, the forces that relate modeling a bridge and a rocket flight; gravity, weather conditions (wind, rain, snow, hurricane..).. etc.
    • Connect same physics principal and try to smoothly fade from the physics of the high precision building to the physics of flying object (fluid dynamics in certain cases).
  • Explain the basis of the science behind rocket modeling. Introduce them to basic 4 forces that affect an object flying through the air : drag, lift, thrust and gravity; and what's is their role in the whole unit concept.
    • Introduce students to the forces: Definitions: drag;.. is the force experienced by any object moving through air or water, that opposes the motion of the object. ...
    • lift; .. the faster the fluid moves, the lower the lateral pressure it exerts.. by causing air to move faster ... ... ... air pressure is reduced which creates lift...
    • thrust; .. is a forward propulsive force that moves an object..
    • gravity; .. is the force that pulls down on the mass of any object near the Earth through its center of gravity..
      • The info taken and referenced from the presented material above - definitions explained - aerodynamics introduced.
  • As the simulation applets are somewhat counter-intuitive and the abbreviations and acronyms are gibberish unless one is familiar with the subject already, I believe that it's especially important to explain what some of these variables mean, how they come into play, and just generally prepare the class to use the software associated with the lab.
    • How are the applets counter-intuitive? Is there simpler software that does the same thing?

Attached to the above explanation; briefly introduce Lab activity-and how it works.

-- Short description taken from Lab part - its going to be handed in in the class and the link will be put in the lab sheet on the day of the Lab session - but software introduced before. Possible screenshot of the screen layout.

    • Same thing for the second software; because both software's have same units and forceswhich were mentioned in the start of the class.

(i.e. drag, lift, thrust, gravitiy; and units like: height, range, capacity, pressure.. etc.)

Lecture 2: Newton's Laws of motion - How they Govern the movement of objects

  • Introduce Newton's Laws of Motion which govern the movement of all objects on Earth and in space.
  • Describe and demonstrate the effects of the three Laws of motion on moving objects.
    • Although we are talking about laws and concepts that are probably already introduced to the students attending the class; it is important to revisit them and relate it the whole topic of fluid dynamics.

-- Page 13-17 in PhysicsCurr + other references.

  • Introduce and use the vocabulary related to rocket flight.
  1. Rest: the state of an object when it is not changing position in relation to its immediate surroundings.
  2. Motion
  3. Unbalanced Force
  4. Inertia
  5. Kinetic Inertia
  6. Static Inertia..
  7. ..

Rest of Lecture 2 vocab is on the page 13 of the PhysicsCurr with corresponding definitions.

Lecture 3: Introducing Model Rockets -How Rockets Are constructed: the effects of aerodynamics Forces


  1. Rocket Cone
  2. Rocket Body (bottle)
  3. Water
  4. Air Pump
  5. Launcher
  6. Air

Model represents the idea of a real rocket and its flight is affected by all the forces that real rocket flight is affected with, with exception on the atmosphere conditions.

  • Describe the phase of a model rocket flight and relate each phase to the aerodynamic forces at work.
    • Please refer to pages 21-23 in PhysicsCurr. All the phases of the rocket flight are explained:

Ignition (launch) Acceleration (thrust) Coast and Tracking (gravity effect) Recovery Phase (gravity effect too) ~ rocket starts to fall towards the ground.

  • Introduce and use the vocabulary related to rocket flight. (new terms of course)
    • Same as in the lecture 3: Page 18 & 19 of the PC (PhysicsCURR) ~ .pdf setting disallow copying so I refer it -- too much to manually copy.

Terms like :

  1. Noe Cone
  2. Recovery system
  3. Body Tube
  4. Fins
  5. Engine
  6. Weathercock
  7. Coasting phase..
  8. ...

and so on.

Lecture 4: The Laws of motion - Putting them together with model rockets

  • Relate Laws of Motion to model rocket engines and to the flight sequence of a model rocket.
  • Finishing notes about model water rocket construction and its flight
  • Note how important it is to build precise model and to be careful craftsman when constructing one of these models
  • Introduce and use the vocabulary related to rocket flight. (final look at it)

Last class will touch the all the points done in last 3 classes and connect them to form a firm knowledge about the water rockets. Labs will be done and the students will have a final peak that the wholeness of the unit; while we connect principles of the aerodynamics (check material for teachers) and the physical experiment itself ( lab done themselves).


The lab part of this unit will be divided into two lab sessions but lab write up will be divided into the partial (first draft) write-up and final write-up. The first lab session will be indoor - on the computers using the software provided (check below). Both RocketModeler II and Water Rocket Fun will be used to get the data and get the idea of the rocket flight through a software simulation. The data from the first lab will be intertwined into the second lab session in a way that they will try to reanimate the simulated flight in real life. Therefore the software flight will have to modeled in a way that it can be done in real life in proper manner. The entire idea of the labs is the carrying skills from software modeling to the real life modeling.


Lab 1 ~ Rocket Modeler

  • What to do, step-by-step
    • The labs will be done on single basis but the groups of two are going to be formed when the second will be performed. This may be more effective if the same groups of two get to puzzle over a rocket simulator together, then go out and try their rockets. It will be slightly better in the case of a huge class. Also, should the water rockets be happening in groups of 2 or of 4? In other words, just how many rockets (student-armed and student-aimed projectiles) do we want to have flying around the place for lab 2?
    • Every student will open the Rocket Modeler II software - either online or downloaded - and remind themselves on the interface from the previous handed in short description and the full description handed in the lab handout.
    • The first lab will ask from them to form a flight that will satisfy certain conditions;
  1. Free flight - secure for others under 100 feet range and reasonable altitude.
  2. Directed flight - maximum altitude - minimum range.
  3. Directed flight - maximum range - minimum altitude.
    • Explore the software under different conditions; windy, different angles, and different rocket models..
  1. Do flights on limits on: water, weight, air pressure, bottle size, angle, and pumping time. You might need to be more specific, and make sure they record some sort of data that they later have available to use in the writeup.
  • What to look for
    • Reasonable results ?, interesting outcomes, required variables for the outdoor flight
  • What to record
    • Screenshot of the outcome of the flight -
    • Record the variable for the next software and for the outdoor flight I don't understand what you mean by this
    • Note the conditions under which certain flight has been simulated
      • The list of things that shouldn't be altered on the simulator will be provided - the ones that shouldn't be bothered -and stuff that should be concentrated on.

Lab 1 ~ Water Rocket Fun

  • What to do, step-by-step
    • After the students have done the part with the Rocket Modeler - the students will open Water Rocket Fun - software provided downloaded. (Multi -platform available)
    • Handouts provided - instructions. Are these available somewhere online or do you need to create them still? This should be done as part of the lab writeup!
    • Although this software provides less options for the flight setup - its purpose will serve in a supporting way; mainly to confirm the data from the first part with the rocket modeler.
    • Check the data from the Rocket Modeler and the conditions that were setup there; setup similar or the same in this software too.
    • Analyze received written variables. more specific, please
    • Plot graphs. More specific, please
    • Print the satisfactory results when done.
  • What to look for
    • Reasonable results, interesting outcomes, required variables for the outdoor flight
  • What to record
    • Print the selected graphs and tables.
    • Record the variable for the next software and for the outdoor flight I too am somewhat confused by this
    • Note the conditions under which certain flight has been simulated

Lab 2 ~ Outdoor Launch (will be updated as been tried out)

(Note some of the stuff could be predone or prepared before the actual launch)

  • What to do, step-by-step
    • Make the rocket - instructions thought and explored Again, where are the instructions? - materials provided
    • Form the launch pad - or just connect rocket and launching pad if the pad is provided before
    • Pump up the pressure and launch the rocket
      • Refer to the previous data - while setting up the rocket for flight - follow instructions ??? I'm assuming this is related to the variables recorded for the "outdoor flight", so we're just attempting to recreate the same conditions?
  1. Analyze the data
  2. Setup the closest setup you can from your first part of the lab
  3. Secure the environment WARNING: WATER MAKES YOU WET Oh crap, no wonder (seriously though, this is a good place to have a safety section)
  4. Possibly form a sub-group to estimate the altitude of the rocket during the flight with the method presented in the class
  5. Secure launching site and recover the rocket
  • What to look for
    • Altitude estimation
    • Big errors from the simulated flight with similar setup
  • What to record
    • Altitude, range, angle - basically everything as the first part
    • Possible image of the launch (just noting part - nothing for the grade)
    • Pathway of the rocket flight

It would be nice if you covered something about safety, especially since what you're writing is going to be transformed into what's given to the students. If you do a Google search for typical archery range safety guidelines, the same would apply here.


  • Required elements

Lab 1

    • Introduction to the lab performed
    • Data from the both software Which data elements?
    • Estimations
    • Errors on software flight (unrealistic errors - not software bugs - software were tested)
    • Connection between flights on the two simulators

Lab 2

    • How much the conditions and estimations were met
    • Estimated values
    • Final table of all the asked for data variables (most of them mentioned above or below)
    • Personal experience
    • Cooperation influence and importance
    • Conclusion
  • Visualization opportunities

Lab 1

    • Screenshots and prints of the graphs

Lab 2

    • Self drawn graphs of the range vs. pressure. .etc. (scatter graphs)
  • Optional elements
    • Image of the launch (optional for the record)
    • Previous experiences with the rocket science
  • Provide a template for the first couple of labs ala CS128?
    • Will do as soon as I grab a dusty ol' copy of one of the labs from 1st semester, over the weekend. (Need to find it? Do you have any scans left? Would be perfect)


  • RocketModeler II


With this software you can investigate how a rocket flies by changing the values of different design variables.

  • Reformat to meet the template (this is confusing the scraper)


If you see only a grey box at the top of this page, be sure that Java is enabled in your browser. If Java is enabled, and you are using the Windows XP operating system, you may need to get a newer version of Java. Go to this link: http://www.java.com/en/index.jsp, try the "Download It Now" button, and then select "Yes" when the download box from Sun pops up.

This program is designed to be interactive, so you have to work with the program. There are several different types of input "widgets" which you use to send information to the program to change the analysis and display results:

1. Some of your selections are made by using a choice box. A choice box has a descriptive word displayed and an arrow at the right of the box. To make a choice, click on the arrow, hold down and drag to make your selection from the menu which is displayed.

2. Some selection are made by using the buttons on the panels. To activate a button move your cursor over the button and click your mouse. The different colored buttons have different effects: -1. Blue buttons are option buttons which you can select. Most option buttons turn Yellow to indicate your current selection. -2. White buttons are processes which you must complete in order to launch your rocket. You indicate that the process is complete by pushing a white "GO" button on an input panel. The process button and the "GO" button turn Green when you are successful. You must have all green buttons in "Mission Control" before you can launch your rocket. -3. Red buttons demand immediate attention or "Aborts" the mission.

3. On each input panel, the current value of a design variable is presented to you in a text box. Different colored boxes have different meanings: -1. A white box with black numbers is an input box and you can change the value of the number. To change the value in an input box, select the box by moving the cursor into the box and clicking the mouse, then backspace over the old number, enter a new number, then hit the Enter key on your keyboard. You must hit Enter to send the new value to the program. -2. A black box with colored numbers is an output box and the value is computed by the program. Red numbers indicate trouble. If the CG or CP output is red, your rocket is unstable and you must change the design. If the Weight output is red, you have insufficient thrust to lift the rocket and you must either decrease the weight or increase the thrust.

4. For most input variables you can also use a slider, located next to the input box, to change the input value. To operate the slider, click on the slider bar, hold down and drag the slider bar, or you can click on the arrows at either end of the slider. If you experience difficulties when using the sliders to change variables, simply click away from the slider and then back to it.

If the arrows on the end of the sliders disappear, click in the areas where the left and right arrow Images should appear, and they should reappear.


The program screen is divided into two main parts:

1. On the left of the screen is the graphics window in which you will see your rocket design, the test flight, and output data. Details are given in Graphics. 2. On the right of the screen are the input sliders and boxes that you use to change your design or to set flight conditions. Details of the Input Variables are given below.


You move the graphic within the view window by moving your cursor into the window, hold down the left mouse button and drag to a new location. You can change the size of the graphic by moving the "Zoom" widget in the same way. If you loose your picture, or want to return to the default settings, click on the "Find" button at the bottom of the view window. The grid behind your design is toggled on or off by using the "Grid" button located above the Zoom widget. There are three main graphics displays:

1. During the "Design" and "Fuel" processes you see the design graphics. As you change any input variable, like the tube length or fin geometry, the graphic changes. There are two colored circles on the rocket. The yellow circle is the location of the center of gravity (CG). The black circle is the location of the center of pressure (CP). The location of the CG and CP change during design and fueling. For a stable rocket, keep the CP below the CG. When the white "Fuel" button is pushed, the graphic includes some information about the propulsion system of your rocket. The form of the graphic depends on the type of rocket. 2. During the "Pad" and "Launch" processes the graphic changes to display the flight graphics. The location and orientation of the rocket is displayed during flight, although the rocket is not drawn to scale with the grid and surroundings. After a successful flight you can save the flight trajectory by clicking the "Save" button below the zoom widget. You can save 5 flights for comparisons. During the flight you have two viewing options. The default is the "Tracking Mode" option which keeps the rocket centered in the view window during the flight. The zoom widget is disabled during tracking mode. The other viewing option keeps the view fixed on the ground. The "Find" button takes you to the launch pad. Use the zoom widget and the graphic movement to examine the entire flight trajectory with this option. Viewing options are toggled using the "Track" button located below the graphics window. 3. The blue "Data" button on the "Launch" input panel displays output graphics in the view window. Data is displayed as "strip charts" of thrust, weight, drag, velocity, and height. Depending on the rocket type, some of these variables do not change. The horizontal grid increments are 1 second on the strip charts. You return to the flight mode graphics by clicking the "View" button on the "Launch" input panel.


Input variables are located on the right side of the screen. You first select the type of rocket by using the blue buttons at the top of the screen:

1. A Ballistic projectile is an object which has no propulsion system and is shot into the air at some initial velocity. Gravity eventually brings the object back to the surface. Ballistic objects have only one input panel which is located at the lower right. You can select several different types of objects by using the choice box at the upper right of the input panel. A representative weight, cross-sectional area, and drag coefficient (CD) are then loaded onto the input panel. You can reset these values as described above. The launch speed must also be specified before launch. You then click "GO" to complete the design and move to the launch pad. 2. An Air rocket is a special case of a ballistic projectile. The weight of the compressed air rocket is determined by your design and a check is made for rocket stability. The fuel for the air rocket is compressed air. You increase the pressure of the air by using a pump. The program computes the launch speed based on an integration of Newton's second law. The launch speed depends on the length of the launch tube. 3. A Water rocket uses a standard 2-Liter plastic bottle for the body of the rocket. You design the other parts of the rocket, including the nose cone and fins. The fuel for the water rocket is water which is pressurized by an air pump. You specify the amount of water, the air pressure, the diameter of the nozzle and the length of the launch tube. Because water is forced out of the nozzle under pressure, the weight of the rocket changes during the flight. 4. The Solid rocket is powered by a solid rocket engine that you purchase from a hobby store. You design the shape of the rocket and the program checks for stability. You fuel the rocket by selecting the number and type of rocket engine. The thrust characteristics of many types of engines are modeled in the program.

During rocket Design, you have four choices of input panels; Nose, Payload, Body, and Fins. You select the input panel by using the blue buttons located above the graphics window on the left. On each input panel, you select the material for the part being designed by using the choice button at the top of the panel. The density of the material is shown to the left of the choice button and is used in computation of the weight of the part. The weight of the part affects the location of the center of gravity and the stability of the rocket. There are input sliders and boxes on each panel which change the geometry of each part:

1. On the Nose panel, you can select the shape by using the choice box at the top. For each shape, you can change the vertical length of the nose and the base diameter of the nose. The program calculates the area and volume of the nose which is then used in the weight calculation. At the bottom of the Nose input panel, you can select the type of recovery system by using the choice box and you can add ballast weight to the nose to keep CG above CP. When you finish the nose design you can select another part by using the blue buttons, or you can click "GO" to complete the design. 2. The Payload panel is used to design the section between the nose and the body of the rocket. As before, you can vary the length and the diameter of the payload tube. As the payload diameter is varied, the nose diameter is also changed, and the area, volume, and weight of the payload is calculated. On most rockets there is a fairing or transition section between the payload and the body tube. You can vary the length and material of the fairing. When you finish the payload design you can select another part by using the blue buttons, or you can click "GO" to complete the design. 3. The Body panel is used to size the body tube of the rocket. You can specify the length and diameter of the tube for the air rocket and the solid rocket. For the solid rocket, the program insures that the tube diameter is large enough to hold the engine. For all types of rockets you can add a fairing to the bottom of the rocket. The exit diameter of the fairing is the nozzle diameter. A fairing reduces the amount of base drag of your rocket. On the Body panel you must specify the drag coefficient of the rocket. (In future versions of the program, the drag coefficient will be calculated. For now, you must input a value.) When you finish the body tube design you can select another part by using the blue buttons, or you can click "GO" to complete the design. 4. The Fins panel is used to design the shape and number of stability fins. You can choose a trapezoidal or an elliptical class of geometry. Rectangles, squares, rhombuses, and triangles are included in the trapezoidal class; circles are a special case of the elliptical class. You specify the location of the fins along the body tube as measured from the bottom of the rocket. You also specify the length of the fin root along the tube, and the width of the fin from the surface of the tube. For the trapezoidal class, you can specify the leading edge (L.E.) angle and the trailing edge (T.E.) angle as measured from the horizontal. When you finish the fin design you can select another part by using the blue buttons, or you can click "GO" to complete the design.

After the rocket is designed, you use the Fuel input panel to specify the propulsion system inputs. The type of input panel depends on the type of rocket. A Ballistic object has no fuel, so the input panel is the same as the design panel. An Air rocket has a pump with a beginning and ending volume that can be used to compute the pressure in the rocket. You can choose to input the pressure by using the choice button on the input panel. The pump pressure and length of the launch tube determines the launch velocity. A Water rocket is filled to some level with water and then pumped to some launching pressure before launch. You select the volume of water, the pump pressure, and the length of the launch tube and the program computes the weight of the water and the lift off (LO) thrust. You must have lift off thrust greater than weight in order to launch. For the Solid rocket, small solid rocket engines are inserted in the rocket. The thrust and weight characteristics of these engines are described on a separate page. With solid rockets, you can also choose a two-stage or clustered configuration of multiple engines. When you finish fueling you click "GO" and proceed to the launch "Pad".

On the launch Pad input panel you specify the flight conditions for your rocket. The default location of your launch pad is on the Earth at sea level. You may also launch from an "ideal" Earth, where there is gravity but no drag, or from the Moon, where there is no drag and 1/6th of the Earth's gravity, or from Mars, where there is reduced drag and roughly 1/3rd of the Earth's gravity. You may change the altitude of the launch pad and the wind conditions on Earth or Mars. You may choose to model the effects of weather cocking on the launch by using the choice box on the input panel. And finally, you select the angle from the vertical and the length of the launch rail. When you finish selecting your flight conditions click "GO" and proceed to "Launch" control.

On the Launch input panel you have a white button to "Fire" the rocket. As the countdown begins, the button turns yellow, then green during the flight, and finally red after touchdown. During the flight, the time and telemetry information changes. You can interrupt the flight by pushing the blue "Pause" button. You can then proceed a time step at a time by pushing the white "Step" button, or resume the flight by pushing "Resume". When your flight is finished, you can "Reset" the same flight conditions and shoot again, or you can re-fuel or change flight conditions. At any time you can "Abort" the mission. At the bottom of the "Launch Control" panel, the current and maximum values of the height, speed, and range (distance from the launch pad) are displayed. The current value of thrust, weight, and drag are also displayed. If a Water rocket is being launched, the instantaneous pressure and fuel weight inside the bottle are also displayed.

Have fun!

  • Water Rocket Fun v.3.4.


The main page that we can focus on: contains downloadable software for a flight of water rocket: Called : Water Rocket Fun v.3.4

This program can help students and rocketeers understand the physics of water rockets and how to optimize their water rocket launches to obtain the highest apogees. The interface is designed to be easy to use and understand. But don't be fooled by the program's simple layout, few if any of the other simulators you may find are as accurate. Under the hood this program is pretty sophisticated and thorough. The methodology includes both incompressible and compressible fluid mechanics along with a fair amount of thermodynamics and numerical methods to provide accurate water rocket apogee predictions. Very usable! Good stuff.

Both of the software are used in the first lab. They will cooperate in a way that results from the both usages of the software's will be combined into real life situation - making a real water rocket launch - estimating and measuring some values and comparing them to the first lab.

Physical Models

We're interested in possibly having students construct a physical water rocket. However, while it would be a great way to approach the subject matter in the unit a hands-on fashion, there are potential safety concerns about launching water rockets on campus, and potential logistical issues with finding a remote location to launch the rockets from.

Additionally, the materials for this are avaliable for us around us - water bottles are main material - everything else needed for a rocket model is really cheap. Besides that, launcher needs to analyzed if it will cost significantly - or generally the launching procedure - because I think it's even launch-able without a special launching site.

-Further info about rocket models - a website of a person which had done this too many times to be expert - so he explains it all on his webpage.

  • The main thing here is to make sure that the modeling/simulation of the water rocket goes hand in hand with the actual building of a water rocket: we ideally would want them to build exactly what they modeled, so that (assuming the model worked) they know it will work properly. Also, for students with no background in physics, there is a lot of groundwork to do before they can put this all together, but it's still important to use all the materials documented here to tie this to the greater scheme of things: they're modeling model rockets, but it's essential to show them the modeling of the real deal to exemplify the importance of this kind of modeling the world.

Bill of Materials

Water rockets are pretty cheap investment; we need water bottles ; size can vary; couple of $. Water; negligible price. Few stabilizing parts on it;probably carton or paper or similar ; very cheap too. Launcher could be bit more expensive; we need air pump and a pad. I guess the whole cost can fit into; dozens of dollars. Really sorry-not good with pricing in USA - Sam can you cover me?


CRS Questions

  • Question 1:
    • Which one of the following elements does not affect pathway of flight of the rocket?
1. Rocket Thrust
2. Earth Gravity
3. Rocket Mass
4. Force by air movement (i.e. Wind)
  • Question 2:
    • What do you require to measure/track the altitude of the rocket flight?
1. A Person at very high position and binoculars
2. Good Math and estimation skills in cooperation with already-known-height of the nearby tree
3. Another person besides you to track the angle reached
4. A measuring device attached on to the rocket

  • Question 3
    • Which one the below listed is the dependent variable from the equations related to the flight of the rocket?
1. Mass
2. Velocity
3. Time
4. Gravity

Quiz Questions

Some of the possible questions are: (reference to the PCurr)

~ Describe the four forces operating on any object moving through air and discuss their application to the flight sequence of a model rocket.

~ Describe Newton's three laws of motion and how they relate to model rocketry.

~ Identify each part of a rocket and describe its function in relation to the four forces operating on any object moving through the air.

~ Describe the phases of rocket flight and make sure you describe them in order they occur.

(Correct answers can vary cause we're talking about descriptive answers; but it has to follow a certain pattern of the definition presented from the readings.) Will surely test their knowledge.

Rocket Modeling Metadata

Rocketry is an excellent mean of teaching the scientific concepts of aerodynamics and Newton's Laws of Motion. It integrates well with math in calculating formulas, problem solving and determining altitude and speed. In constructing a model rocket, the student must follow directions, read and follow a diagram and use careful craftsmanship.


As said in the overview, later in the semester - late March or so. Because of weather for lab #2 - two weeks unit.

Concepts, Techniques and Tools


  • Data -> information -> knowledge
  • Computational thinking
  • Accuracy vs precision


  • Interpreting a graph
  • Basic statistics
  • Estimation
  • Data collection


  • Spreadsheet; {Open, Neo} Office
  • Plotting; The simulators provided.
  • Visualization/visual modeling

General Education Alignment

  • Analytical Reasoning Requirement
    • Abstract Reasoning - From the [Catalog Description] Courses qualifying for credit in Abstract Reasoning typically share these characteristics:
      • They focus substantially on properties of classes of abstract models and operations that apply to them.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. Does not apply; this unit is purely quantitative.
      • They provide experience in generalizing from specific instances to appropriate classes of abstract models.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. Again it does not apply/support.
      • They provide experience in solving concrete problems by a process of abstraction and manipulation at the abstract level. Typically this experience is provided by word problems which require students to formalize real-world problems in abstract terms, to solve them with techniques that apply at that abstract level, and to convert the solutions back into concrete results.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. Does not support it; it could but we have different focus.
    • Quantitative Reasoning - From the [Catalog Description] General Education courses in Quantitative Reasoning foster students' abilities to generate, interpret and evaluate quantitative information. In particular, Quantitative Reasoning courses help students develop abilities in such areas as:
      • Using and interpreting formulas, graphs and tables.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. It does support this it; as I described above- the unit requires and will develop math, and science skills so it will also include certain number of formulas, graphs and certainly tables.
      • Representing mathematical ideas symbolically, graphically, numerically and verbally.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. It does support this it; as I described above- the unit requires and will develop math, and science skills so it will also include certain number of formulas, graphs and tables which will also have their symbolical, graphical and numerical representations.
      • Using mathematical and statistical ideas to solve problems in a variety of contexts.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. Still not sure how big will variety be but what is sure that math and statistical ideas will be used to solve problems.
      • Using simple models such as linear dependence, exponential growth or decay, or normal distribution.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. Probably we will meet linear dependence in this unit; following the graphs of the various bottle pressure bottles, etc.
      • Understanding basic statistical ideas such as averages, variability and probability.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. It will certainly contain all the above mentioned ideas cause we are talking about predicting events, simulating models and analyzing predicted events.
      • Making estimates and checking the reasonableness of answers.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. "Yes, estimation and confirmation are important part of the unit.
      • Recognizing the limitations of mathematical and statistical methods.
        • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. Even if numbers of paper have power to predict and evaluate something; real life experiment can always show more than numbers.
  • Scientific Inquiry Requirement - From the [Catalog Description] Scientific inquiry:
    • Develops students' understanding of the natural world.
      • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. The students are making a model which is going to resist gravity, but also be affected by natural happenings like air drag, and possible weather features.
    • Strengthens students' knowledge of the scientific way of knowing — the use of systematic observation and experimentation to develop theories and test hypotheses.
      • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. The students will have chance to pre-use computer simulators and software which are going to possibly give them ideas to develop their own ideas about the model and predictions of occurrences throughout the lab.
    • Emphasizes and provides first-hand experience with both theoretical analysis and the collection of empirical data.
      • Analysis of this unit's support or not for this item. The lab will be the main medium of experiencing the real model evolving; and cause of that will be collection of data and students analysis of ones.

Scaffolded Learning

The 3 steps involve the following.

1. Talking about some of the general principles of aerodynamics and how the forces involve effect the flight of various aircraft.

2. Modeling the flight of a rocket or airplane based on lecture content.

3. Actually building a model airplane or rocket and then launching it based on conclusions reached in the simulations based on lecture content.

Inquiry Based Learning

According to previous template; same as :Scientific inquiry above. What does this mean? Put the actual text here that describes how it supports inquiry based learning.

Rocket Modeling Mechanics

To Do

  • The principle and approach are great, but it needs to be significantly simpler. For example the instructions for carrying-out the software labs need to be simpler/clearer.
  • Cleanup formatting. Missing entries, abbreviations, ..., etc.
  • Follow the template more closely, e.g. To Do vs Comments.


  • In Lego catalog, Charlie found air-powered straw rockets. "Pitsco" makes them, here's a link: http://catalog.pitsco.com/store/detail.aspx?CategoryID=24&by=9&ID=2653&c=1&t=0&l=0
    • Outside, wind may be a factor - perhaps use gym - this would free us up weather-wise
    • (Note, we would have to reserve the gym, charlie sent a note to the Registrar's office about this)
  • Seconded about formatting; edit headers to meet the template, helps make it clear what is a subsection of what
  • Relocate past reviewer comments (and for the next sweep, make sure the current ones are moved). Somehow their color was wiped and they're lumped in with everything else now, which makes for a confusing read.


Also older comments which I addressed in the assignment before this one.

  • Just an observation: this states "for grades 8, 9, 10, 11"; is it going to be satisfactory/appropriate for college freshmen?

As I have already mentioned in the below lecture notes NOTE; it does imply that, but we are talking about very specific material which will in combination with further more-advanced ideas about rocket flight produce an appropriate material for the freshmen.

  • This will be review for some freshmen straight out of high school physics, and bewilderingly new for others. Juggling the level of interest and knowledge for even a small class may be difficult, not to mention a huge class.

I will try to be more clear; the talk would be about very specified on the flight of a rocket - which might be a case with level of specificity which not many have met before; meaning that we will go very specific; some stuff to note at, some obvious stuff; a bit deeper than general stuff they probably learned. Could be altered though. For instance, list these, define them, etc Addressed - lecture part.

  • Q2 might be a bit confusing

Second question offers bit longer answers which from 1 point of view sound ridiculous but from another have applicable ideas. Even though some of them might even produce an approximate correct answer - only one is true.(C)

  • Is the football field too small or too crowded? Estimate how large the area needs to be, how long and when we need it

The Flight of the rocket can be adjusted, so having a smaller or bigger area should not represent any problems. And to answer a question to 100ft vs 10 ft flight; it is perfectly fixable with just adjusting the size of bottle used and amount of water in them; I guess that is the advantage of the water rocket.


  • Yubaa ~ yrosic08
  • Sam ~ spwein06