Everybody loves the
unforgettable, visceral thrill of a rocket launch. Whether it’s the
Saturn V with 7.6 million pounds of thrust or a tiny model launched
from your backyard, projectile motion can be studied and understood
by students of all ages. In fact, many teachers conduct projectile
motion demonstrations with water-powered or solid-fuel model
rockets.
These demos are exciting, but
they are not examples of true projectiles! Instead of one initial
launch force, they have a timed “burn” while the fuel is spent. With
a true projectile, after the initial force, the only thing affecting
the flight is gravity. For a pure study of projectile motion, the
variables we’re interested in are:
**Launch
Force - Gravity - Launch Angle **
Air resistance does play a
role, but we tend to ignore it for the sake of understanding at the
elementary and middle school levels. At the high school
level, it may be taken into consideration.
This month, we’ve got some
fun activities that help explain the forces involved in rocket
flight. |