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Using both BYU and STEM grants, Canyon Crest third grade teacher, Mrs. Stone, had her third graders perform an experiment dealing with force, angles and rockets.
Using the Canyon Crest gym, the goal was to find a way to launch rockets with enough force to reach a dinner plate across the width of a basketball court.The rocket launchers had two settings to manipulate: the angle that the rocket was launched and the force that it was launched with. The angle was determined by a small pump-like needle that could move along a protractor. On the other hand, the force was accomplished by raising a rod, with numbered markings to indicate force, and letting it fall down a tube that forced air out of the needle.
In groups, the students wrote down data such as mass of the rocket, angle, force used and length the rocket flew. After each try, they would go back to the side of the gym, record their data and, using their knowledge of newtons’s three laws, work together to see what else they could try. One group tried using a force of 10 at a 30 degree angle and were only able to get their rocket to fly 14 feet. Since the dinner plate was 30 feet away, they adjusted their force to make it to their goal. When they tried a force of 16 at a 30 degree angle, their rocket was able to fly 20 feet. While this was close, they were still off by 10 feet so they continued their attempts until their rocket was able to hit the plate.
This experiment was both fun for the students and achieved the third grade common core to “describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect” through encouraging students to use the scientific process in their own way.